What was your first clinical experience like? Any suggestions on how to handle it?

  1. Hello All -

    I am a 2nd semester student in an accelerated BSN program and I will be beginning clinicals next week!

    I am extremely nervous, but excited at the same time...I am guessing this is normal :uhoh21: .

    Would anyone care to share their first clinical experience and possibly provide any tips in regards to surviving and getting the most out this experience.

    Thanks and HAPPY NEW YEAR'S TO YOU!!!!

    lmv
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  2. 21 Comments

  3. by   atwtrn
    I loved my first clinical experience. Here are some tips:
    1. Drive to the site before the first clinical. This will prevent you from getting lost.
    2. Press your uniform! You'd be surprised that many students arrived looking like slobs. BAD first impression.
    3. Bring all necessary equipement.
    4. Consider purchasing a PDA. Being able to bring dictionaries and med guides in my pocket, and being able to jot down notes has been invaluable!

    Hope this helps!
  4. by   Scrubz
    Last semester was my first semester of nursing and in fundamentals we did our clinicals at a local nursing home. Luckily I had already became familiar with the facility because I did my CNA clinicals there for about a week, so that helped; knowing my way around the facility. So if you have the chance to check it out before hand that would give you a leg up. I had already been working as a CNA before we started clinicals, albiet at a hospital, which is totally different than a nursing home, I had already been famliar with a clinical environment, and that helped too.

    Other than that the best things you could do would be to show up a little early so you have time to compose yourself, bring all the supplies and papers you need because the last thing you need is the stress of knowing you forgot something. That's about all you can do. You'll probably be nervous but that's okay, it'll pass eventually.

    Just prepare yourself the best you can because you'll be a little nervous regardless, but that's normal.

    Have fun!
  5. by   Jules A
    Lol, my first clinical experience was horrifying but it was a quick and dirty way for me to get my feet wet. At the end of the day I figured if I got through that nothing else would phase me and that is pretty much how it went. I had a very large, bedridden pt who was prone to panick attacks. The morning I took care of her she was very aggitated, which made her gi system on both ends rather fractious. I spent the morning trying to manage and clean that up, it was ugly. The good news is the day went really fast and my clinical instructor was impressed by how well I managed to pull it all together and keep my cool. Just go with the flow. Jules
  6. by   marilynmom
    I loved my first clinical.

    It was on a Med/Surg floor and I had no hospital experience whatsoever. I was SO NERVOUS, my hr was like 117 (I counted!). I felt like I knew nothing (and I didn't), but it was so great and exciting just being there, getting my feet wet.

    Now that I work as a nurse tech and have more experience (I still get nervous though) I can share what helps me while at the hospital. First off, even if your scared out of your wits help in any way you can...that is the only way to learn and get good at things, as well as getting over your fears--this is a big deal for a lot of people, I have seen people avoid things at clinicas out of fear. A compact drug guide you can keep in your pocket (or a PDA) to look up any and all drugs, a notebook to write everything down and a good pen. Oh and a stethoscope that you can hear out of (I had a cheap one that I couldn't even hear bowel or s1 s2 with!). I have one of those storage clipboards to store and keep track of all my clinical paperwork as well.
  7. by   Epona
    Hi everyone! This is a great post! I am starting RN school in about a week and this is very helpful. What is a PDA?? And does it have an organizer with it?? Forgive me if that sounds like a dumb question. But anyway, I appreciate the help!! E
  8. by   CityKat
    I loved my first clinical of med surg Show up on time, with a clean uniform, have all of your paperwork (ie. med calc exam if you need it and your ID), BE IN CORRECT UNIFORM, have your stethescope and a BP cuff if asked, bring a pocket notebook and your PDA if you have one, wear a watch with a hand, don't wear perfume and if you have fake nails, take them off. You will have to take them off anyway, better to get ahead start on it
    My clinical instructor was a crazy, energetic, hands on, critical thinking, maniac. But, I LOVED her She made me think, do things, figure things out, feel like a real nurse, start IV's and even draw blood. I hope you have someone like her. In the end you will learn to love her even if she sounds scary right now. Enjoy it, they are fun!!
  9. by   BeccaznRN
    Great suggestions so far! I would like to add that getting everything ready to go the night before is a fantastic idea - it will help you feel more confident that you aren't forgetting anything important when you're rushing out the door. Especially because those pesky care plans can keep you up WAY past your normal bedtime!

    Best of luck to you!
  10. by   Nurse_Diane
    Quote from Epona
    Hi everyone! This is a great post! I am starting RN school in about a week and this is very helpful. What is a PDA?? And does it have an organizer with it?? Forgive me if that sounds like a dumb question. But anyway, I appreciate the help!! E
    PDA stands for (I think) Personal Digital Assistant. It is a hand held organizer that you can load lots of cool nursing-type programs into, such as Epocrates (which is a drug guide). I think it beats carrying around a bunch of books.

    Good luck next week!
  11. by   AliRae
    My first clinical day involved myself and another student attempting to shower and dress a very large, very schizophrenic LTC client. I think the 2 of us were wetter than our patient when we finally finished. Thankfully, our instructor peeked into the shower room halfway through, realized the trouble we were having, and didn't get upset when we spent the rest of the day looking like 2 drowned rats. =) The only thing that day did for me was cement in my mind the fact that I'm NOT an adult nurse. Been working PICU for 15 months now, and loving every day.

    Take a second to just breathe before you walk in the door of your first clinical. I remember forgetting to do that at times. =) I'll echo all the other statements- make sure you look nice, have everything you need etc. But I think a huge part of being prepared is going into it with the right attitude. No, you don't know much of anything yet. Yes, you have a lot to learn. But if nursing is really for you, that won't phase you. Go into it with eyes and ears open. Be ready to learn everything you can. It's easy, early on in clinicals, to get tunnel vision and just focus solely on the tasks you're assigned. I know it's difficult, but try to stay aware of what else is going on around the unit. You'll be surprised, when you're finally done and on your own, what little tricks you were able to pick up along the way.

    Good luck! Keep us posted on how things are going.
  12. by   Sillynicunurse
    I like to get everything together the night before and put my clinical bag into my car. This includes everything that usually goes into my pockets(started that after I forgot to load my pockets before I left).
  13. by   *ac*
    Put a black ink pen in every pocket - they dissappear so fast! And you can give one to the first RN that can't find one - (s)he will be your new best friend.
  14. by   atwtrn
    Quote from *ac*
    Put a black ink pen in every pocket - they dissappear so fast! And you can give one to the first RN that can't find one - (s)he will be your new best friend.
    Thats a great idea! I'm going to start carrying extra pens. :spin:

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