Advice for Nursing Students: How to Thrive at Clinical Rotations
My unit at a community hospital has a great number of nursing students from two RN schools and one LPN school. While the staff greatly appreciates having the extra hands on our short staffed unit, there are certain things we do not appreciate.
Here are some do's and dont's of interacting with the nursing staff at your inpatient clinical rotation sites. These are just some suggestions based on my observations.
1) Arrive on time
This is very important. Please be there before we get report, so we don't have to take up time giving report again for you to listen in. Of course I will do this with a smile, but I will be a little annoyed.
2) Introduce yourself!
I like putting the students' names on the board. I can't do this if you don't tell me who you are.
Please, please be considerate. Do not pile your stuff on one and guard it as yours. If you see a computer open outside a room please find out if anyone is using the computer before taking it. Also, keep those computers plugged in. There is nothing worse than documenting your entire assessment or scanning all your meds, only to have the computer shut off on you.
4) Do not "hoard" my patients
I should not have to feel like I am intruding on you and my patient because you have been in the room behind a closed door for an hour.
5) Ask questions
But at the right times! I love questions, love students, and love teaching. No question is a wrong question. However, if I'm very busy with something, I may not be able to give you an answer.
6) Vital signs machines
Some of the machines work better than others. Please leave the higher functioning machines for the nurses to use with their med passes. Please do not take the machines and leave them in the room. Please do not leave them unplugged, especially in the room where we can't find them. It is very frustrating to look for machines or to wait for one to become available.
7) Try not to take things personally
Cannot stress this enough! The grumpy nurse has probably been working way to many days in a row, has a heavy group with three isolation rooms, and is running on four hours of sleep. It's (usually) not anything you did.
I like knowing what is going on. If you take vitals and document I&Os, please let me know so we do not double document or trouble the patient unnecessarily. Please let me know at the beginning of the shift what your responsibilities will be so I can coordinate care with the tech.
9) Be available
Please be visible and available to help. Do not hide out and gossip or read magazines in the break room. Stay off your phone and save Candy Crush for later. You never know what you may miss!
10) Have a good attitude!
Attitude is key and will make or break yours or anyone's day. Be positive, be a team player, and remember why we are here (to care for the patients).
I hope everyone has a successful semester at nursing school!Last edit by Joe V on Dec 9, '13
About Lev <3, BSN, RN
Lev <3 has '4' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'Emergency - CEN, upstairs, troll bashing'. From 'Another planet'; Joined Jun '11; Posts: 2,854; Likes: 5,285.Nov 5, '13Great advice.
It's interesting to see how some things have changed since I was a student in the *cough* seventies, but the basics stay the same. Be on time, be alert, be curious, be kind, be considerate, be communicative.
Good luck, students!Nov 5, '13as a current nursing student, I'd also add let them know that you're willing to help with other patients that you aren't assigned to as well. I've learned more by helping with other patients than if I focused solely on my own patient. The nurses then see that you're trying and have brought me in to see other things that I might not have had I not been open to new experiences.Nov 5, '13Thank you for taking the time (and caring enough!) to post these excellent suggestions and observations. I would love to have you as a mentor any day!Nov 5, '13Quote from sueallAww thank you! It really warms my heart to hear you say that.Thank you for taking the time (and caring enough!) to post these excellent suggestions and observations. I would love to have you as a mentor any day!Nov 5, '13Quote from krisiepooGreat point!as a current nursing student, I'd also add let them know that you're willing to help with other patients that you aren't assigned to as well. I've learned more by helping with other patients than if I focused solely on my own patient. The nurses then see that you're trying and have brought me in to see other things that I might not have had I not been open to new experiences.Nov 5, '13Thanks for your post! I am a nursing student and sometimes I wonder what my "buddy" nurses are thinking when I ask questions or update them on my patient - not sure if I was going overboard on communication, but I feel better now since reading your postNov 5, '13Also, and this is advice from both perspective as a student (graduated in December) and a nurse that's had students following - LET US KNOW if there's a particular area you're focusing on in lecture/clinical at that point (ABG's, EKG's, etc.) and if there are skills you're needing to sign off on or get practice on (NGT, IV, Foley, etc.) I spent my last two shifts in my complex semester scrounging for needed skill signoffs because I hadn't been proactive in asking for them earlier in the semester.
Even if it's not my patient, I tend to know if my coworkers are needing an IV started or an NGT dropped and if you've been PROACTIVE and HELPFUL (those extra hands on the massive Code Brown did not go unappreciated) I'm really likely to let my coworker know I've got a student who'd LOVE to take that to-do off her list.
We're also usually more than willing (time permitting) to help you get some real-world perspective on whatever your current lecture focus is... my patient may not have had an ABG today but they did yesterday and if I know I can pull it up and we can discuss it in relation to how the patient is presenting.
And the MORE YOU HELP with the mundane things like baths and Code Browns, the more time the nurse may have to talk about stuff with you or show you stuff.Nov 6, '13These are all really good. I am always amazed by how casually some of my classmates approach nursing school. My only addition would be to mention for nurses that so graciously precept students - please know that sometimes we aren't there for report because our instructors do not arrange our clinicals in that fashion. It always bothered me, but for our med-surg clinicals we didn't get released to the floor with our assigned nurse's name until 7:30-7:45. I still don't know why they did it this way because we were required to be at the hospital by 6:30.
Thank you to all the nurses that helped me along the way. Just a few weeks of public health and the NCLEX to go for me. I hope to pay your kindness forward someday.Nov 9, '13Be engaged and help out with my other patients.
The "best" students aren't the ones who are "super-smart." The best students are inquisitive and investigate. I had a student who couldn't answer one question about pharmacology I threw her way and knew very little about her patient. Instead of taking it in stride, she looked up the drugs really quick and then asked the patient why he was there. Both were ingenious of her, and I even let her do procedures with my other patients because like I said, She didn't want to "know it all," she wanted to experience it all.Nov 10, '13This is all great advice! I am really fortunate that my professors that have been in charge of our clinical rotations have been amazing and have really pushed us to do these things. They are on top of us - never ever do we sit, read magazines, gossip etc! The professors have trained us so well that the RN's and CNA's LOVE when we get there because we do almost everything needed for our 2-4 patients we have been assigned per student.
My motto - clinical is the interview for the job before you even get a real interview!!!
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