First Day of Clinicals....Disaster

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    Hi everyone,

    I just wanted to share about my first day of clinicals. It was awful. We had partners to take care of one patient. Our patient was 95 and her daughter was glued to her side. I was to start vitals. The daughter insisted on BP first. I was afraid because she was frail. Then after two tries I couldn't hear ANYTHING. My instructor had to do it. Then after that we were to do a full head to toe assessment and a bed bath. The daughter would not let us do it because the patient was tired.

    Finally after two hours my instructor assigned us to another patient. We performed the full assessment and helped her to the commode. She really wanted her bath. She smelled like feces. I felt so sorry for her. But, no. We had to then hand in some nurse's notes to our instructor by 10:30 so we had to wait on the bath. In lecture, we learned about fidelity. If you tell your patient you're going to give her a bath, give her a bath. So about an hour and a half later......We started her bath. We didn't have much time and were rushed because we HAD to meet for lunch by 12:30.

    We were unorganized because someone had taken our bath supplies and linens out of the room and we had to go hunt down more. How does that happen? Only to me, right? LOL So we gave that sweet lady a bath. And we started to get her out of bed and to the chair to give her lunch and change her linens. I had the foley bag to make sure it stayed where it was supposed to. I looked up on my partner's side where the iv was and it had come out. NIGHTMARE. I hung the foley bag back on the bed (but too high. I was panicking about the iv) I went and told my instructor and the nurse. The instructor was furious about the bag. It was on the side rail. I WILL NEVER DO THAT AGAIN. Sucks when you learn from mistakes sometimes. The nurse was so sweet to us. The patient was so appreciative.

    After lunch, we met with our instructor and had a little conference about the day. Everyone but us had a good day and did great. I said, "I feel bad because of the mistakes that were made." My instructor said, "You should." I guess I should expect that. She said if it happens again she will fail us. I'm definitely not used to that. I have been doing so well in the lab and in lecture. She pulled me aside and said I wasn't aggressive enough and I needed to not shuffle around so much. I was running my butt off, not shuffling. She yelled at my partner and said she was making excuses.

    I went home last night and felt like a complete FAILURE. My instructor told my parter after I left that "we need to figure it out." Next week I will be by myself and I know it will be better. I can organize a little better and we will hopefully have a patient from start to finish. All night I tried to make sense of the day and how I could have done it differently. And I learned some things from it. It still feels REALLY bad. Up until yesterday I thought I was doing so well. One day can just shatter my confidence.

    Sorry this was so long. It feels better to get it off my chest.
    seasoned hopeful likes this.
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  4. 38 Comments so far...

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    trust me, my first (and only clincal so far due to snow) wasn't a success either. although it wasnt much like yours..it was less than diserable. i KNOW that i am awkward with my patients, i am afraid to take control and get them up and give them baths...it is one thing to do a skill in the lab and different with a PATIENT. but luckily, knowing my weakness makes me aware that i need to work on it. the best thing i think you can do is take a step back and look at the whole day...find out what you could have done differently..could you have planned your day a little better? knowing you had lunch and a meeting at specific times requires you to work around those schedules but you also don't want to rush everything in order to get it completed. maybe you just need to work on how you manage your time and how you handle the stress..don't worry, that it something everyone needs to work on i think. in cases of emergencies..always make sure your patient is safe..don't panic (or try not to!)..like with the foley, ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS make sure your patient is safe before you go get help..if that means that you take a few extra seconds to place the foley in the right place..then do it. take your first clincal as a learnign experience...yeah it didnt go well, but what can you do better next time. make yourself a little schedule and try to follow it..allow yourself X amount of time to get something completed and do your best to meet that goal. every clinical will be a different experience (or so I am told) so don't go in expecting next time to be just as bad. good luck
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    I'm sorry it didn't go well. I haven't started clinical yet (mid March) and I'm scared! I do not do well with aggresive behavior from instructors such as 'you should feel bad of the mistakes you made'. Eeesh! I hope next time is better for you.
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    What a horrible instucter. You are learning and it is not easy maybe she should have been assisting you and helping you. She will fail you what a lovely learning environment !!!!!!!!!! No pressure then.
  8. 2
    Thank you for the replies. I have decided to just pick myself up and do my best when I go back again next week.
    LesMonsterRN and dudette10 like this.
  9. 3
    It's always hard when you're first starting out. I expect that things will go better for you as you get more experience. Hang in there!

    (Some of the instructors I had in school who seemed like the meanest, most unreasonable instructors at first ended up being the people I learned the most from and the ones who cared most about the students learning what they need to and learning to be a great nurse. Don't leap to too many assumptions about your instructor from your one-bad-day experience. )
    mc3, Meriwhen, and LesMonsterRN like this.
  10. 2
    I guess your instructor forgot that none of us would need to go to clinicals if we knew everything there was to know about patient care! Also, IMO, she should have been monitoring all of you a little more closely, so that she could be more available to help anyone who was struggling. I remember how intimidating my very first clinical was, and I'm glad I had an instructor who was WAY more professional than yours. (She wouldn't let any of us touch a pt until she had time to come into the room and monitor us the first few times.)

    You will find your confidence, and you will have your confidence taken away many more times before you're finished. It really is a shame that your instructor forgot what it's like to be a student.
    citylights89 and pca_85 like this.
  11. 0
    I did all the stuff you've described in my STNA clinicals, everyone in my class made mistakes and were terrified...........confidence comes with time. Sounds like your instructor is a tad impatient, and while you'll have coworkers like her, failing someone for those things is a bit much. So fight fire with fire: where in the student hand book does it talk about failing clinicals and the circumstances. Learn it well so you know what CAN get you kicked out, if she tries to get you in trouble over anything that's not listed there, there is usually a process to be followed that will involve her boss. Good luck.
  12. 1
    I appreciate everyone's comments so much! Makes me feel like I'm not alone.
    bigsick_littlesick likes this.
  13. 0
    Willbeanrn,

    PM me who it is you have as your instructor and maybe I can give you some pointers. I'm at north, too.

    I'm sorry you had a bad experience your first day. Everyone in my clinical group had a bad first day. Thankfully, though, we had a nice instructor so the bad experience had nothing to do with her, and we also had 2 students to a patient. I will say that after 3 courses, that day was still the hardest day I've had yet. All the rest of the days have been easier. I'm not saying some days weren't hard, because they were, but they've gotten easier. Nursing is dynamic. Its always changing and we have to be flexible. As your skills get better, so will your confidence and that will help.

    I remember after my first day, I came home so exhausted- physically AND mentally. My husband took one look at me and said that it was ok if I didn't want to do nursing anymore. I guess by how I looked I looked as if maybe I didn't. But I told him that this is still what I want to do and I can't judge it off of one experience. I have to say, I think I hated clinicals in Process 1. All of them. Its no fun giving baths, changing linens and doing vitals and nothing else. In process 2, you start giving out meds. In GIGU, we start doing foleys and NG tubes and IV pushes. It gets better as you go along. Keep your head up, and even if you have to fake the confidence, then fake it. the patient, and your instructor, do not need to know you're nervous on the inside. If you get frazzled, ask a fellow student to help. Don't sweat it. Come up with a game plan on the order of how you want to do things. Go in, get your report from your nurse, introduce yourself to your patient, do your vitals and then your assessment. Try to get that done before breakfast. Then, you can write your notes while they are eating and when they are done, you can do your bath and linens. You will have patients who can wash themselves at times, so bring them their stuff and go in and change their sheets. It will get easier. After running behind that first day even though I had another student WITH me, I never thought I would be on time on my own. But I've been on my own since, and I have been doing just fine. I will say I think that was a horrible thing for your instructor to say (not so therapeutic as you just learned with communication, huh?). I have a pretty good idea who it is, too.


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