Making the transition from class to clinical

  1. I'm in my second (and most difficult) semester of an accelerated BSN program. I had a 4.0 GPA in the first semester with minimal clinical exposure and mainly classroom and lab stuff. This semester is much heavier with clinicals (2 days a week) with a total of 18 credits worth of courses.

    My problem is that I get VERY nervous at clinicals. You can see from my grades that I know what I need to. Studying is not my problem. I just can't handle being asked questions on the spot and shake like a leaf even when I have to do something simple like take a rectal temp.

    I would LOVE some advice from you weathered nurses out there and maybe some horror stories from those who have "crossed over (from novice to expert)?"

    Thanks in advance,

    Julie in NYC
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  2. 8 Comments

  3. by   memphispanda
    The only advice I have is try to be confident! You know you have prepared, so just take a deep breath, think, then answer. I think the instructors expect you to be nervous at first, but it really does get better. You will get to know where things are, and what is expected of you, and pretty soon you'll LOVE going to clinical and wonder what on earth you were worried about!
  4. by   NurseWeasel
    Not to trivialize your experience, but to share your misery, I'll tell you this story...

    I've got fairly extensive medical assisting experience and have a cumulative GPA from my first degree and the nursing prereqs of something like 3.86. I'm no dummy, lol. I've also taught a lot of CPR & first aid classes so it's not like I'm new to speaking in front of people. BUT...

    Yesterday during our clinical lab I was the 'student instructor / demonstrator' for bedpan placement. I was nervous, for crying out loud! I was demonstrating on a mannequin and in front of fellow students & the instructor. I have no idea what was wrong with me...

    Would you believe I a) forgot to talk about bedpan use with someone who can't lift themselves up [roll them over & tuck the pan under/beside them, roll them back onto the pan] even though I knew that, and b) I dropped the freeking bedpan, lol. It was one of the metal ones so it CLANGED really loudly, too! *blush* Thank goodness it was only a practice demonstration and the bedpan wasn't full!
  5. by   llg
    One trick I had for dealing with the nervousness that accompanied "bedside quizzing" from my instructors many years ago .... is to take control of the conversation by asking questions, making comments, etc. If you are quiet, she will simply ask you another question -- which may be something you will screw up. By initiating the topic by asking a question yourself or guiding the conversation through your comments, you maintain a little control and keep the conversation from going where you don't want it to go.

    llg
  6. by   CountrifiedRN
    There is a big difference between knowing the information inside and out from a text book and applying it in real life. But the more practice you get, the better you will become.

    It is also more intimidating to have someone watching over you when you do a task, especially if that person is grading you. I used to shake like a leaf just taking po meds out of their package and putting them into a little medicine cup in front of the instructor. We had to verbally state what we were doing, "I'm checking the expiration date, Aug 04", "I'm doing my second check of the medication and dose", "I'm going to rip the package open and put the pill in the cup" (and praying that I didn't pop it out too fast and shoot it across the room!")

    You will do fine, just remember that the more you do, the easier it wlll become. Some students try to hide when procedures come up, but I always volunteer so I will be more comfortable with my skills.

    Good luck!
  7. by   kittya
    Consider that you're always going to get that 'reverse parking in front of an audience' hot sweat on when you do your stuff, but remember you know what you're doing, you know why you're doing it. It gets easier the more it happens!
  8. by   julieK
    I thank all of you for your replies and hope to hear more. I believe you when you say it will get easier. I think my main problem is that I let the anxiety get to me. I'll give you an example:

    One of my first times in the hospital, I was on a post-partum floor and we were instructed to take vital signs on a few patients. Now, I've always had problems counting respirations (don't ask me why, I really don't know. I know it should be easy) and I counted 14 on one mom. The nurse in charge came and got me and told me it was unacceptable. So, I asked her to join me and count with me (like she had nothing better to do, but she complied). I thought I only counted 16 that time, but she claimed 18. I was so embarrassed that I now feel dread whenever I do it, which doesn't help when trying to just keep track of what you're doing.

    I'll keep at it, though, and hope for better experiences.

    -Julie in NYC
  9. by   Angelica
    I, too, was really nervous (especially during my second semester--when we started clinicals in a hospital). After that semester ended I started working in the hospital as an extern. The only reason I did it was so that I could gain more experience doing procedures, so I would not feel as nervous in my third semester. I'm really glad I did because it helped my confidence enormously.
  10. by   litepath
    One trick I had for dealing with the nervousness that accompanied "bedside quizzing" from my instructors many years ago .... is to take control of the conversation by asking questions, making comments, etc. If you are quiet, she will simply ask you another question -- which may be something you will screw up. By initiating the topic by asking a question yourself or guiding the conversation through your comments, you maintain a little control and keep the conversation from going where you don't want it to go.


    .......Ditto!! Engage the teacher first...Like "I've read or I understand that we need to use a filter on this line but i'm not sure how these couplings work"...Just go straight to the heart of the matter and let "her" know what part is uncomfortable with a given procedure before you get to the bedside..

    ps: don't forget your gloves! And don't forget to breathe!!

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