Book worm vs. skill set

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    My mother is a nurse, and she says her experience with students is that she prefers a student, who is strong in clinicals yet may be average in class. Right now, I'm doing really well in class and comprehending concepts, and I'm doing ok, in lab. I haven't gotten to clinicals yet, so I can't really predict how I'll perform. For now, I'm not satisfied with my skills. Although, we haven't really gotten in depth, with skills, I always feel like I'm over thinking even the small things: bed making, bathing, etc. I'm always concerned with how the instructor sees my performance, so that, too, hinders my ability to just do things. I feel like I'd perform much better, if I didn't have to follow every little instruction and was just able to think and do for myself, but I'm so wrapped up on getting it all right, according to the books or videos that we watch. All this makes me wonder how I'll really be, as a nurse. My dream is to be the best nurse that I can be, and because of my little mistakes, I feel like I'm going to have a heck of a time getting used to hands on activities. It's not that I'm doing horribly, but I don't think I'm doing as well as I should. I want to be a bit more confident and comfortable, once I get to clinicals, so any advice, reassurance, or shared experiences are very much appreciated!
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    First of all, I wouldn't worry too much about nurses preferences for students. Floor nurses especially would prefer a naturally skillful student because it makes their teaching job easier. Slow students slow things down. That's fine, but you can only do what you can, at the pace that you can. You're there to learn . Eventually new skills will become routine and it won't affect your ability to be an awesome nurse at all.

    I'm a fantastic knowledge base student, and a bit lame on the skills side. I read all the material on skills beforehand, ace the pretests, etc, but in the end I learn how to do something by doing it. Not by watching someone else do it (in person or on video). Not by listening to lectures. Not by reading. But by actually doing it. So while some people come to lab and perform skills the first time flawlessly, I'm kind of starting from ground zero. I passed meds in the hospital yesterday for the first time in maybe 3 months. You'd think I'd never seen and MDM the way I was fumbling around. Oh well.

    I've found (as with everything else in nursing school) knowing the why cuts out the need for memorization. The steps are there in order for a reason - an IMPORTANT reason - and wrapping your head around that can reduce the feeling like your trying to remember a list of 10,000 steps.

    So I started practicing skills in my mind before lab always thinking "I do this now because..." and things go much easier when it's time to actually do it. If I forget a step, I look at why skipping that step could have caused harm and I'll probably never forget it again. I don't know why, but I have way more confidence that way, versus obsessing over a checklist.
    Last edit by Stephalump on Jan 31, '13
    GrnTea and country3 like this.
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    To the OP: it is easier to train a person with strong clinical skills, but if they don't understand the theory, it doesn't work out. It is also doable if the person has average clinical skills and average theory knowledge. The surprising combo that doesn't really work is great theory knowledge but minimal clinical skills...usually these people "can't see the forest from the trees". Example: super smart newer nurse learning IABP with her preceptor...they were reviewing the pump and monitor in the room. The RT in the room says "I don't think they're breathing" and after the nurses ignore the RT because they are so focused on the patho, I hear the RT screaming loudly from the room "the patients not breathing and i don't think she has a pulse". I run into the room where the RT is bagging the patient and the two nurses are still ignoring the patient; I pushed both nurses out of the way and start CPR after calling a code blue. The two nurses where still oblivious as the code team ran in to help.
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    Oh, wow! Talk about situational awareness! Thank you both for the info and advice. I'm so excited and motivated to do it all right, but I'm also so afraid of missing something or making a mistake, too. It's just all overwhelming at times, and I think I let my head get in the way. Anyways, I'll do my best to sharpen my skills and take what I can from the experienced nurses. I'm sure it takes much experience to be aware of every little detail, in a given situation. Sometimes, I feel like I'm looking at the forrest and not seeing the trees. In my opinion, this can be dangerous, too.
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    I think skills tests are harder than the procedure is in real life. Because yes, in lab, when you test out on things they want you to do it their way, and as accurately their way as possible. Some people find it easier to do things differently than taught in class (like me), but they don't always like it that way. Granted, there is a difference between doing something differently and doing something wrong, or that can increase chances for infection, etc.
    country3 likes this.
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    Be excited but be safe! Sometimes you need to step back to see the "big picture" but details can be important too!
    country3 likes this.
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    Skills lab seems to be very particular, and I've been hearing a lot of things about things being different in the real world. I just want to get past the point of obssessive behavior in doing everything exactly as planned and to the point where common sense, thinking, and procedure all come together. I guess it all just comes with repetition and practice.
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    Quote from country3
    Skills lab seems to be very particular, and I've been hearing a lot of things about things being different in the real world. I just want to get past the point of obssessive behavior in doing everything exactly as planned and to the point where common sense, thinking, and procedure all come together. I guess it all just comes with repetition and practice.
    It also comes with actual clinical experience. Skills labs are designed to reduce the number of variable so you can simply do what you're told, rather than think critically. When you start clinicals things will start to come together. Cut yourself some slack
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    speed is not the priority. Critical thinkers (book worms) may be slower, but they understand what they are doing better and may "see" what needs to be done faster than the task-doer. Just work at your own pace and do not worry about what others think. You are in school to learn, not compete.
    GrnTea and country3 like this.
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    Thank you guys so much! I really do appreciate your words of wisdom.


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