Clinical was my favorite part of nursing school. Finally, some real life patient care! It can be fun but also very stressful so here is my 10 point advice on how to survive clinical.
1. Come prepared. This means your care plans should be done, your uniform should be on (including your pen, penlight, stethoscope, sharpee and a notebook), and your meds reviewed.
2. Ask questions. This is your time to learn! No question is a bad one. If you don’t know something ask. It’s better to ask and learn than to never ask and end up hurting someone.
3. Seek out opportunities. Let the nurses know that you want to observe or participate in any skills they might be doing! No skill is beneath you. Bathing a patient and learning to transfer them safely is just as important as tracheostomy care or placing a foley! Soak it all up!
4. Get some sleep! Have you ever pulled an all nighter to study and then realized “omg… I’m not retaining anything”… The same goes for clinical. If you’re not well rested, you’re not going to retain all the cool stuff you’re learning. So catch some zzz’s. Your memory will thank you
5. Eat breakfast and bring snacks. Low blood sugar is a distraction and can make you hangry. Eat a protein filled breakfast and carry some easy to consume snacks in your scrub pockets. Trust me, no one likes a hangry nursing student and you don’t want to wake up on the floor from low blood sugar.
6. Watch and learn during report. This is the best time to learn not only about your patient and what we are looking out, the goals, etc for but also, to learn how to give a good report. Be respectful and listen up. When they are done, then ask your questions. Disrupting them ruins their flow and can make key things be missed.
7. Never act like you know the answer or how to do something if you don’t. This is a red flag that you aren’t safe. If you don’t know how to do something or the answer to a question, just be honest. It doesn’t mean you’re not smart, in fact, just the opposite!
8. Time management is your best friend. Cluster your care. Think about your priorities. Always visit your most critical patient first and most chatty patient last. Have all of your supplies, medications, etc ready before you enter a room. Follow around the most efficient nurse and do what they do! Time management is key!
9. Be nice to everyone but don’t butt kiss. Be nice to your classmates, the patients, the patient’s family, the nurses, environmental staff, and everyone else you come in contact with. You will see all of these people over and over again. The nursey world is a small world and people never forget how you make them feel.
10. Think things through. Think about the how, the why, the reasoning behind things and why certain medications work best. This is when you get to apply what you’ve learned in class. Brain storm answers with your classmates. Think about your priorities. Ask clarifying questions. You got this!
Have any more clinical recommendations? I’d love to hear them. Comment below with your suggestions!
Love and Scrubs!