Advice for Nursing Students: How to Thrive at Clinical Rotations

by Lev <3

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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.

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    Advice for Nursing Students: How to Thrive at Clinical Rotations

    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 donít 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 studentsí names on the board. I canít do this if you don't tell me who you are.

    3) Computers

    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 Iím 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 canít 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. Itís (usually) not anything you did.

    8) Communicate

    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 anyoneís 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
    trancefamily, Herrington, nicoleaic, and 26 others like this.
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    Lev <3 joined Jun '11 - from 'Another planet'. Posts: 591 Likes: 508; Learn more about Lev <3 by visiting their allnursesPage


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    17 Comments so far...

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    Great 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!
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    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.
    Momma_D, mebe5, poppycat, and 4 others like this.
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    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!
    shannon81, nikki marie, and Lev <3 like this.
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    Quote from sueall
    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!
    Aww thank you! It really warms my heart to hear you say that.
  9. 0
    Quote from krisiepoo
    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.
    Great point!
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    Thanks 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 post
    Lev <3 likes this.
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    Also, 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.
    bsartor, mebe5, mrsmamabear2002, and 2 others like this.
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    I am about to head to a clinical right now! I will keep your article in mind.
    Lev <3 likes this.
  13. 1
    Great advice. Thanks

    Sent from my iPhone using allnurses.com
    Lev <3 likes this.


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