Totally discouraged by clinicals

  1. 1
    We started our clinicals last week...We had one full day of orientation about the floor, how to work the beds, the iv pumps...etc. But aside from that we had very little guidance on what my instructor expects from us. So day two was getting our assigned patient. We had to fill out a ton of paperwork, which i expected. then we introduced ourselves to the patient and pretty much thrown to the wolves. The RN I had didnt have the time of day for me to ask questions, or even give me something to do. I did an assessment on my patient, vitals, and he was pretty much self care so I had NOTHING to do all day, I went in and checked on him every 10 minutes so I could look busy. My instructor pretty much treated me like an idiot all day. We learn skills in lab and class, i thought clinicals were supposed to be about fine tuning those skills and learning. Neither of those happened and the clinical instructor doesnt seem to be interested in doing it. I know its only week one and I will get more confident and more familiar but right now I feel awful. Maybe I have abnormal expectations of what my clinical experience should be? Any tips on how to prepare better and show more initiative without getting in the way?

    **On the up side, I did do a successful foley and my patient told me he wanted to marry me, so I couldnt have been all bad **
    TXGreenEyedSmile likes this.
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  3. 23 Comments so far...

  4. 3
    I'm not sure what semester you are in but it sounds like you might need to adjust expectations. Most schools build up to doing more at clinicals over time but preceptorships are more comparable to nursing. In clinicals you're usually expected to learn about various disease processes, get a few skills on live people, and get use to interacting with patients. Do you or will you administer meds? Do a good job advocating for yourself for procedures when possible but if you are given just one patient then do your best to really care for them. Somedays your patient will need a lot less but on other days your one patient will keep you hustling all day long.
    Congrats on the foley!
    RunBabyRN, loriangel14, and Kellyb10 like this.
  5. 14
    If you put in a foley on your first clinical day, then you are way ahead of the game.
    aquamoon713, ProfRN4, SopranoKris, and 11 others like this.
  6. 1
    In my clinicals, I started about eight IVs and put in one foley in 2 years. I would round on your patient every 30 minutes and make sure things like bed/bath are done. Offer to help any nurses. Your instructor should be making sure that they know what skills you are allowed to do in case something like a foley or IV pops up (if you're allowed). I'd spend the rest of the time learning more about the patient and different treatments proposed or planned for the patient. Read progress notes.

    I used to joke my instructor sent me to the ER my first semester so she could brag her student started IVs during the IV lecture (we completed IV skills lab a week earlier, somehow with snow days the lectures/skills were a different week). The census was low so as a medic I was okay to send to the ER so we didn't have to cancel clinical as she sent two people to ortho and one to their stepdown/ICU as she was a CNA at that particular hospital who worked that unit.
    Kellyb10 likes this.
  7. 1
    If this is your first clinical you are honing your beginning skills: bed baths, blood glucose checks, starting IVs, vital signs, learning how to communicate with patients, learning how to do a physical assessment on your patient. Your first patient was "walkie talkie" and didn't really need much assistance. Maybe you can ask for a patient who needs more assistance with bed baths, etc. You will be learning and also taking some of the work off the the RN on duty.

    If you have a care plan assignment you can also start looking up possible nursing diagnoses for your patient. As someone else said you will not do everything right away. Different tasks and learning opportunities will come around. Good luck to you.
    loriangel14 likes this.
  8. 0
    I know Im not going in guns blazing and saving the world quite yet, Im just unsure of whats expected of me since my instructor seems to think we should be saving the world right out of the gate. She kept asking us about different meds and skills sets we havent learned about. Our school switched to a brand new (and not at all improved) curriculum starting with my class, so I dont think those in charge of clinical sites have any idea what weve been taught. I would just like to be a little more prepared to care for my patient as independently as I can, in the sense that I can know what to do and when to do it. Im not getting alot of direction. Thanks for the input everyone. I do have some ideas now of how to keep myself occupied and get a little more out of my day.
  9. 4
    I hope you realize that all the "cool" skills you learned in skills lab aren't always being done everyday on the floor. There may not always be a pt who needs a Foley or a NG tube or has a trach. Some weeks the floor may be full of more independent pts, and in those situations you have to try to get the most out of your educational opportunity including getting to know their meds, researching their diagnosis, and fine tuning your assessment skills
    ProfRN4, SopranoKris, RunBabyRN, and 1 other like this.
  10. 1
    You could try and make yourself useful on the floor. Try asking if the nurses need help and answer call bells.
    SopranoKris likes this.
  11. 0
    Well, I think someone should bring in a lab syllabus. As for the meds, we were always responsible for the meds we were to give as in knowing about them.
  12. 4
    Don't forget about the less task oriented skills a nurse needs. You could use your walkie/talkie patients to practice taking a thorough history, doing a full head to toe exam, teaching pts about any procedures, labs, diet, disease process, medications, etc. If the patient is ambulatory then they may be ready to discharge - has any follow up been planned, consults made to community services? Try to make sure you have a holistic approach to your pt since these are things that can be neglected in a busy hospital environment.
    ProfRN4, SopranoKris, GrnTea, and 1 other like this.


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