have so many students unnecessarily freaked out about HIPAA and to be honest...many nursing instructors don't even know how HIPAA works or what constitutes a violation.
For example, even in major published studies, using a patient's initials have LONG been used But I had a couple of instructors that not only wanted us to reverse the initials, but to use the next letter in the alphabet for each one...that is ridiculous and even if you used the real initials, that in no way violates HIPAA.
Education of healthcare professionals is an exception in HIPAA, so some latitude is permitted.
Common sense, rules here. It's not hard. You don't access patient's information unless you have been assigned to the patient, you are helping care for the patient or you have access for an assignment. When you turn in information, you use the patient's initials but can use everything else because YOU ARE IN SCHOOL. Of course, an uneducated instructor may have you change more details, but once you get into higher education, you'll find out that isn't necessary.
When keeping sheets to make notes for assignments (very small notebook is better) use the initials but write down one fact that you can remember. Such as, "He said he really liked race cars as a kid," anything to help you remember.