Clinical advice- How can I help?

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    Does anyone have advice of anything that a nursing student could do that would benefit the unit/floor during down times? The last couple of clinical rotations we have had, the units have only had a few patients and once vitals are taken and meds given, there isn't a whole lot to do. We answer all the call lights and do whatever our patients need/want, but is there something additional we could be doing? I feel bad because a group of 2-3 of us inevitably will be standing around, essentially waiting for a light to go off. I'm not above doing any tasks and just wish I knew how to be of more use. I've tried asking some nurses and my instructors but I've never really gotten any advice other then to answer the call lights. Any suggestions?
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    Aside from answering call lights I like to take the down time to get really into my patients chart and start looking at their history, labs, meds, tests etc... Start putting pieces together. Review procedure manuals at your facility, core measures, etc. I also usually carrying a few notes on flash cards I can review .
    kayleen4246 and RunBabyRN like this.
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    Quote from kayleen4246
    Does anyone have advice of anything that a nursing student could do that would benefit the unit/floor during down times? The last couple of clinical rotations we have had, the units have only had a few patients and once vitals are taken and meds given, there isn't a whole lot to do. We answer all the call lights and do whatever our patients need/want, but is there something additional we could be doing? I feel bad because a group of 2-3 of us inevitably will be standing around, essentially waiting for a light to go off. I'm not above doing any tasks and just wish I knew how to be of more use. I've tried asking some nurses and my instructors but I've never really gotten any advice other then to answer the call lights. Any suggestions?
    Are all of your patients assigned to one nurse? I always get assigned to a nurse which means I am assigned to all of his/her patients. I shadow them for the day once I'm done with meds/assessments and even if I'm not doing a skill, I'm always observing and asking questions to learn everything I can from them. Maybe you can also work with the CNA to see if they need help with other patients? There are usually a few patients on the floor that require total care and the CNA's can usually use an extra pair of hands for feeding, bathing, etc...
    RunBabyRN likes this.
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    I had an instructor once that would start calling other floors to see if there were any skills they wouldn't mind letting a student do. Other than that, you can always go clean off the patient's tables, empty the trash in each room, wipe off any and all surfaces and equipment (even phones and handrails on the wall...those never get cleaned) with those sanitary wipes, check the supply room and make sure there aren't supplies in the wrong bins. If you're bored, start wiping something. There's never nothing that doesn't need to get wiped down.
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    Check IV bags and tubing, any due to be changed? Same for pts on tube feed.
    Who has wound care, trach care, etc? Check that the pts room is stocked with what is needed to that care.
    Any pts have ng tubes? check collection containers, do they need changed?
    What supplies are always kept at every beside? are they there? O2 tubing, suction equipment, etc.
    Do any patients need ambulation?
    Make Incentive Spirometer rounds...are they in the rooms? Are the patients using them?
    Visit a patient...many have no one to talk to.
    See if anyone could benefit from ROM exercises.
    Lev <3 and kayleen4246 like this.
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    during my CNA clinicals, toward the end of the shift we would start to twiddle our thumbs because there wasn't much else to do- so we would clean underneath the patients fingernails, give manicures, get them involved in activities, etc. This was at a LTC facility though..not sure what kind of facility you are in. If at a hosp setting, you could check to make sure all supplies are where they need to be, skim through your patients charts to get an idea of their history, etc.
    kayleen4246 likes this.
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    We actually aren't assigned to a nurse- we are assigned to one patient. Sometimes the nurses will allow us to follow them as they work with their other patients but a lot of times we are told to just care for our own patient. We can answer call lights but we don't get to follow the nurses which I think kind of stinks because I think I would learn a lot more doing it that way.
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    Those are GREAT suggestions! Thank you guys so much! I like the idea of rounding the patients room, stocking and cleaning them up and making sure all the tubing/lines look good. I honestly felt uncomfortable going into a room I wasn't assigned to and wasn't invited into (i.e. a call light going off) but I think that's a great use of time and encourages opportunities to interact more. I love this board! Thanks again- I'm putting these into practice on my next shift!
    adnstudent44 likes this.
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    With my last 2 rotations I did things like clear trays from rooms if the were done eating, stock gloves in the room, stock the isolation cart, go to all the rooms and ask if they need any water (if they are allowed water). The nurses seemed to appreciate me clearing trays without being asked. I know they weren't "nursing" jobs, but still a lot of these things like getting water and clearing trays do tie up the nurses time. I also find if you are helpful to other nurses they come find you if there's something interesting to do or see.
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    Quote from kayleen4246
    We actually aren't assigned to a nurse- we are assigned to one patient. Sometimes the nurses will allow us to follow them as they work with their other patients but a lot of times we are told to just care for our own patient. We can answer call lights but we don't get to follow the nurses which I think kind of stinks because I think I would learn a lot more doing it that way.
    I've done both, followed a nurse, and been assigned a patient. My learning experience was about the same for each, and I still often found myself with downtime. Enjoy it now, once you are working it will be rare.


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