Top 10 Tips to Get Through Nursing School Clinicals
by Marijke Durning @ Aug 21, 2010
I start my nursing clinicals (RN program) in a few weeks and Iâm terrified. Iâve heard horror stories from other student nurses about not feeling like they belong there and being afraid to make mistakes. Do you have any tips for me so I donât feel like Iâm going to fail before I even get there? Emma
Nursing school can be a stressful experience but some people feel the stress more than others. By preparing yourself, you can help reduce the stress and anxiety, making your nursing clinicals more meaningful for you. Being prepared and knowing how to handle the unexpected helps you get the most out of your clinical experiences. Here are 10 tips to help you get started:
1 â“ Prepare for clinicals the night before. Many nursing schools provide you with your patient assignments the night before your clinicals. If your nursing school does this, use this information wisely by researching everything you can about your patient or patients. The more you know, the less overwhelmed you may feel. If you donât know your exact patient load, you can still study up on the most common issues that you could encounter on the particular unit or area you are assigned to.
2 â“ Get a good nightâs sleep. The night before clinicals is not the night to skimp on sleep. You need to be able to be prepared to answer questions and think on your feet.
3 â“ Eat a healthy breakfast. If youâre doing a day shift, itâs vital to eat breakfast before heading to clinicals. You donât know how busy you will get and when youâll be able to take a break. By eating a good, healthy breakfast, youâre getting into a good habit for your working life and you ensure your body isnât craving food when you should be concentrating on your nursing and your patients.
4 â“ Leave home early. Whether your clinicals are at a local hospital or a home health situation miles away, you never know if your travel time is going to be affected by traffic or public transit breakdowns. If you get to your destination without incident, being early allows you to prepare for your experience and troubleshoot if there are problems.
5 â“ Be prepared. Nursing students have some items they should always have with them, from notes and note paper (and pen!) to stethoscopes and other tools. If you use a PDA, be sure itâs charged.
6 â“ Once you are at your clinicals, be sure to ask questions if you donât understand. While it can be intimidating to be the only one asking questions, even if you are, itâs entirely possible that your fellow nursing students have the same questions but are too shy or intimidated to ask.
7 â“ Think positive. This point can be tough for someone who isnât feeling particularly confident, but by emphasizing the positive (look how far you are!), you can portray confidence. If you portray confidence, thereâs a good chance youâll start feeling it.
8 â“ Never guess. If you donât know something, ASK. Guessing is one of the worst things you can do when dealing with medications, treatments, and â“ in reality â“ someoneâs life.
9 â“ Remember that your patient is a person. Donât fall into the trap of being the nurse for the patient in room 512 or the nurse for the post-op heart bypass. This makes a big difference in how you think of your patients and how you treat them.
10 â“ Remember why you are there: You are there to learn. If you make a mistake, admit it and learn from it. Donât dwell on it. Chances are, it wonât be your first mistake and the best thing we can do with mistakes is ensure we donât repeat them.
Nursing school and clinicals arenât easy â“ if they were, anyone could do them. But youâre not just anyone, right?