Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Nursing Student Jitters During Clincials

I'm an old nurse, I remember those first days of clinicals very well.  As though it happened yesterday in fact.  Not a good feeling.  Trust me, every nurse you meet has been there and felt the same way.  You are not alone in your thinking. 

Do your homework, know the material you are expected to know prior to any clinical day.  You will have a chance to research your patient ahead of time---do it!  Know their meds and side effects, someone will ask, most likely your clinical instructor.  Be prepared.  Know what labs they had done, the abnormals and why they are abnormal.  What tests is the patient scheduled for?  You can glean a lot of information about your patient by taking the time to read their chart, even their social history, likes and dislikes.  Allergies????  Do they have them?  Very important to know on ALL patients.  You never want to get caught giving a medication someone may be allergic to.  If the chart says NKA (no known allergies), ask the patient yourself again if they have any.
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Be professional at all times, friendly but not overly so.  The nurses you will encounter will be busy most of the time, under stress and possibly will have a difficult caseload.  They may come across as unfriendly, unwilling to be helpful.  Do not take this personally, they are only trying to manage their patients first and foremost.  Offer to help in some way, maybe to get supplies or assist with bathing or turning a patient.  It's a good way to gain trust and stand out in the unit as a student nurse.  Most nurses appreciate help, even in small ways. 

Don't stand around idle.  I don't care if you're not busy at the moment, just don't do it.  Look busy.  Read a chart, look up labs, make notes.  Just don't stand or sit in a chair staring blankly. 

Be confident around your patients even if you're not quite feeling it yet.  Act as though you've done a procedure a 100 times.  If you're unsure of performing a procedure always, always ask someone to guide you.  Never do a new procedure blindly even if you feel 'stupid' for asking.  Causing harm to a patient is far worse that feeling stupid. 

Relax, take some deep breaths.  You will be just fine.  It's why they call it the "Practice of Nursing", it all takes practice and every single day you are a nurse you will learn something new, even after doing it for 30+ years. 

Nursing is a rewarding career on so many levels.  You're going to do just great!
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