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Anxious About Clinicals

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by JamieSch123 JamieSch123 (New Member) New Member

94 Visitors; 5 Posts

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Hi everyone, I am starting my first semester of nursing school this fall. All my prerequisite courses are done! I'm very excited to start nursing school, but I'm nervous about the clinical experience. I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I am currently on SSRIs and have resumed therapy in preparation for the stress that comes with nursing school. My biggest fear is having a break down during clinicals. I'm afraid I'll buckle under the pressure and I'll cry if a nurse makes me feel dumb. 

My question is how do I grow thicker skin? How do I keep my composure and succeed in nursing school? 

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502 Visitors; 9 Posts

Hello, congratulations on your acceptance! I am a senior nursing student, so I’ve been in your shoes. Clinicals are the best part of the program because it allows you to apply the theory, patho, skills, and pharmacology that you are learning in class. That being said, I can understand being anxious if you have no prior experience with patient interaction. My advice is to reach out to your professors, they are your best resource. The whole nurses eat their young thing is, unfortunately, rather true. You just have to remind yourself that you are LEARNING. You will not know everything and nor will your professor expect you to. You will only be responsible for the skills you have been checked off on. Therefore your first semester is probably going to be mostly obtaining vital signs and personal/hygiene care. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If your assigned nurse for the day is treating you rude, remind them that you are a student and doing to the best of your ability. They were there one day before. If you are mostly worried about social interaction, try reaching out to your local nursing home or hospital. Many will allow you to shadow a nurse or volunteer. Nursing is a lot of hard work, but the rewards of helping someone in their darkest time is priceless. Study hard, practice frequently, and remember to take a deep breath. You can do this! 🙂 

Edited by Ty4091

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Luchador has 5 years experience as a CNA, EMT-B.

1,582 Visitors; 243 Posts

Congrats Jamie!

I'm starting my final year next month.  With your anxiety you want to

  • Be on time or a little early for clinicals. Set 2 alarms if you have to. Don't be late! 
  • During clinicals keep your head down, follow the rules and avoid drama, gossip and all that crap.

Even if you are a model student there will be plenty of occasions for anxiety so I would make sure that you do everything you can to be a model student and not bring any extra stress on to yourself

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1,034 Visitors; 101 Posts

I'm entering my final year this semester, and I can COMPLETELY understand being nervous about clinicals. I'm a very introverted person and was dreading being "put on the spot" by the staff or my instructor. Honestly, though- I LOVE clinicals! I was worried I wouldn't enjoy the clinicals on med-surg or the L&D floor because I know that isn't what really interests me, but there is so much to learn every single clinical day. It's great to make connections between what you've been learning and how people are experiencing it in real life situations. I second Luchador, though- BE ON TIME and AVOID DRAMA. There is no such thing as "down time." I'm sure I've gotten on the nerves of several nurses and techs asking if any of them needed anything after I've just finished up an assessment or meds for one of my patients. 

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243 Visitors; 45 Posts

Congratulations on beginning nursing school! I graduated from nursing school this past May and completely understand that overwhelming feeling of being anxious. I agree with everyone above that you should always arrive on time. That's honestly just good advice for pretty much every situation in general! I would say prepare before going to your clinicals. I'm sure you will have to do some sort of paperwork in preparation for your clinicals and you should really take it seriously. It's much easier to feel relaxed if you at least somewhat know what is going on with patients!

I think for the most part nurses don't mind having students. When you are just starting out you will be fresh and have lots to learn. Sometimes nurses may be quick with you or scold you but DO NOT TAKE IT TO HEART! Seriously, don't! Nursing is stressful and for the most part when nurses do yell at students it's because the nurses themselves are feeling stressed or rushed.

No one knows anything, not even the crank old nurse who has been in the same unit for 100+ years. Ask questions if you have them. Remember that the nurse you shadow is a regular human being and was once a student. If the nurse is busy or you can tell they are annoyed with you asking too many questions, write down your questions and during lunch/bathroom break/back at home google it to find the answers. 

I'm naturally shy and had to physically force myself to speak up around the nurses. Remember that you were smart enough to get into the program and you belong in that hospital!! Have confidence and remember that there is no shame in excusing yourself to go to the bathroom to do some deep breathing. 

Best of luck to you!!

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94 Visitors; 5 Posts

Thank you all for your advice and words of encouragement!

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294 Visitors; 13 Posts

My class has a couple students with general anxiety.  One had to repeat a year due to a panic attack.  The other had to prove she was in therapy and working on the problem.  Both are going to graduate. 

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3,685 Visitors; 220 Posts

Make an impression.  I am the first one on the floor and the last one to leave.  This semester I get to pick my patient (as long as another student has not picked them) - so I go to the charge, ask the charge who to pick, and I do them wether I want to or not because I know they have a reason for picking that person.  Then the next day I come prepared.  I know their meds and have a cheat sheet in my pocket.  I know their diagnoses and all the important stuff and have it written on a tiny notebook so I can quickly look things up.  I only look at my phone if I am looking something up in front of my nurse with his/her permission (we are actually allowed to do this by our school).  I NEVER sit down unless it is with my nurse, I never look at my phone and I certainly do not stop and do my paperwork during clinical.  I do it after.  We have post-conference and then I go make sure I have everything I need, find my nurse and thank them and leave the floor.  All the nurses know my name on the floor wether I have worked with them or not.  They also pick great patients for me now.  Initiative goes a long way - especially when you need a moment to pull yourself together.

Remember - nurses don't make you feel dumb but you may feel criticized a lot.  This is important because they are teaching you and not every nurse is a good teacher.  Many of them didn't sign up for us to follow them around and they aren't teachers for a reason.  Don't listen to HOW they say things - listen to the WORDS that they say.  They may say - don't do it that way, do it this way and show you the proper way.  In your head you may hear "stupid - you are doing it wrong".  That isn't what they said though - listen to the words they actually speak.  None of us students do everything right the first time out of the gate - we need a lot of help and we get a lot of correction - but we need it.  This is super hard even without GAD.  I don't have any suggestion for how to actually do this - its hard to hear words and not emotions... maybe practice with friends you are comfortable with.  Good Luck - you can do this!!!  You really can!!!

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tinyRN72 has 6 years experience as a BSN and specializes in Cardiovascular Stepdown.

4 Articles; 2,508 Visitors; 71 Posts

I see that you have gotten a lot of advice from fellow students and that is great! But I thought that you might want to hear from an experienced nurse too. 

First - I LOVE having students assigned to my patients. I love teaching and sharing tips and tricks of the trade to young minds. There are many nurses who will be happy to have an extra set of hands. 

My advice is to be available and willing to help. Let your nurse know that you want to do anything and everything that you are allowed to do - also that you want to watch anything that you are not allowed to actually do hands on. They will appreciate your desire to learn. 

Be happy if they ask you help by being a runner. It may not be your top priority to run for towels or get water for patients, but these little things ready help the nurse and having a good attitude about it will take you a long way in the eyes of the nurses on the floor. 

We always have students that we look forward to working with because they are helpful and make our day better - be one of those students and you will be treated better and learn more. 

On the down side, some nurses just don't like working with students. Don't worry about them. It isn't personal - they simply don't appreciate how much you can assist them while you are there. In this case, just ask questions of your clinical instructor instead of the nurse when possible. It's ok to let your instructor know that a nurse isn't particularly warm to students. This helps them with planning future assignments because they want you to have a good experience. 

If you find those nurses who enjoy students, try to get assigned to their patients if possible. 

Try not to interrupt if the nurse is busy. If they are on a computer, don't walk up and just start talking. Wait for them to signal they are ready to listen to you. Also, don't interrupt them while pulling meds, let them finish then speak to them. 

Remember to ask often "how can I help you?"

I wish you the best of luck! It is not going to be as bad as you think it is - I promise! 

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36 minutes ago, tinyRN72 said:

It's ok to let your instructor know that a nurse isn't particularly warm to students. This helps them with planning future assignments because they want you to have a good experience. 

 

THIS! So. Much. This. 

In my last semester, there was a particular nurse that made it very clear to me I "missed report" and did not give me any information on my assigned patient. I was embarrassed first and foremost. I also felt like explaining why I "missed" report (our pre-conference with our clinical instructor to get our assignments and figure out who our nurses were started at shift change rather than before [which doesn't quite make sense to me], but I digress) was a moot point. I let my instructor know and not a single other student was assigned to that nurse for the remainder of the semester. 

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50 minutes ago, tinyRN72 said:

I see that you have gotten a lot of advice from fellow students and that is great! But I thought that you might want to hear from an experienced nurse too. 

First - I LOVE having students assigned to my patients. I love teaching and sharing tips and tricks of the trade to young minds. There are many nurses who will be happy to have an extra set of hands. 

My advice is to be available and willing to help. Let your nurse know that you want to do anything and everything that you are allowed to do - also that you want to watch anything that you are not allowed to actually do hands on. They will appreciate your desire to learn. 

Be happy if they ask you help by being a runner. It may not be your top priority to run for towels or get water for patients, but these little things ready help the nurse and having a good attitude about it will take you a long way in the eyes of the nurses on the floor. 

We always have students that we look forward to working with because they are helpful and make our day better - be one of those students and you will be treated better and learn more. 

On the down side, some nurses just don't like working with students. Don't worry about them. It isn't personal - they simply don't appreciate how much you can assist them while you are there. In this case, just ask questions of your clinical instructor instead of the nurse when possible. It's ok to let your instructor know that a nurse isn't particularly warm to students. This helps them with planning future assignments because they want you to have a good experience. 

If you find those nurses who enjoy students, try to get assigned to their patients if possible. 

Try not to interrupt if the nurse is busy. If they are on a computer, don't walk up and just start talking. Wait for them to signal they are ready to listen to you. Also, don't interrupt them while pulling meds, let them finish then speak to them. 

Remember to ask often "how can I help you?"

I wish you the best of luck! It is not going to be as bad as you think it is - I promise! 

Thank you so much for this! 

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72 Visitors; 11 Posts

I have been a nurse for about 6 months now, but still remember the stress that came with clinical.

I didn't always have the greatest attitude towards clinical. I always felt like us students were in the way and a burden upon the nurse to which we were assigned. This always made me feel uncomfortable, and quite honestly made me dread clinical some days. Looking back on it now, I wish I would have cared a little less. Yes, you probably are going to be in the way, and yes, some nurses probably would rather not have a student with them. And that's okay. The important thing to remember is that all nurses have had to go through clinical, so no matter how uncomfortable you feel, they were once in the same exact position. So try not to take anything too personally. Additionally, I would suggest seeking out skills as much as possible. If your patient for that day doesn't have a lot going on, or if your nurse isn't too receptive to having a student, ask your instructor about what else is going on in the unit. I'm sure there is always a patient who needs a dressing changed or is going to a test that you could observe. 

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