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Easy Win-Wins to Impress Your Clinical Instructor

Students Article   (1,270 Views 1 Replies 786 Words)
by J.Adderton J.Adderton, MSN (Member) Writer Verified

J.Adderton has 20 years experience as a MSN .

7 Followers; 59 Articles; 27,998 Profile Views; 278 Posts


Interested in a few easy tips to impress your clinical instructor? In this article, I will share what student behaviors I look for during clinicals. Hopefully, I will also provide insight on what to avoid for a great clinical experience.

Easy Win-Wins to Impress Your Clinical Instructor

One of my favorite job responsibilities as a nursing instructor is nursing clinicals. It is an inspiring moment when a student is able to make the connection between classroom and hands-on nursing practice.  As much as I enjoy clinicals, there are situations when student actions or behaviors can bring additional challenges to clinicals.  I’ll share a few of these and, hopefully,  provide you with a little helpful insight.

Appreciate Your Instructor’s Responsibilities

Your clinical instructor is legally obligated to safeguard student and patient safety. In addition, they can be held accountable for the negligent or wrongful actions of a nursing student.  You can help your instructor make appropriate patient assignments by communicating your strengths, weaknesses and skill level. I have always appreciated students who perform ongoing formal and informal self-assessments on knowledge and skill.

Your First Impression Really Is Important

You have several "first impressions" to make on any clinical day- your instructor, patients, caregivers, clinical site staff and others. 

The dress code is what it is.

There are certain uniform requirements as a nursing student you probably find overly strict, out-of-date or too restrictive for your own personal style.  When I started nursing school 25 years ago, we were required to wear nursing aprons.  It was an archaic uniform requirement, but it was also just that… a requirement.  Updating your program’s dress code policy is may be a worthwhile project, but always follow current policy.  Students are anxious as it is and a uniform reprimand at the day’s start only makes it worse.

Be on time and eat before you come.

First, I would like to acknowledge there are legitimate reasons you may be late to clinical (i.e. sick child, traffic, car problem).  In these situations, be sure to follow your program’s instructions for notifying your instructor.  Otherwise, leave early and allow time for the unexpected.  Be sure you eat before you arrive.  Asking if you can “go eat breakfast” 1 hour into clinical will probably not be well received.

Value Your Program’s Relationship with the Clinical Site

Identifying willing clinical sites for students is challenging and requires active relationship building.  You can help your clinical instructor foster this relationship by:

  • Caring for all patients with dignity and respect.
  • Following the clinical facility’s policy and procedures (i.e. parking, non-smoking campus, patient confidentiality)
  • Reporting any issues with staff to your clinical instructor immediately.
  • Being realistic with facility staff expectations.  Remember, the nurses are busy and stress levels may be elevated at times.  
  • Always receiving report and giving report to your assigned patient’s primary nurse.
  • Avoiding “hanging out” at the nurse’s desk.  Talk with your instructor if you are not sure what you should be doing.

Avoid These Cringe-Worthy Faux Pas

I value students who participate and focus on the present clinical.  The following student behaviors take focus away from clinical, place your instructor in an awkward spot and should be avoided.

  • Asking if group can be dismissed early because “no one will tell”.
  • Asking questions about past or upcoming exams.
  • Talking negatively or gossiping about other students.
  • Talking negatively or gossiping about other faculty.
  • Asking if post conference could be “skipped” for the day.
  • Talking negatively about the overall nursing program.
  • Talking negatively about the clinical site and/or staff.
  • Arguing or disrespectful behavior toward facility staff.
  • Studying or working on outside assignments during clinical.
  • Asking if the student has to perform patient personal care.
  • Complaining about “working all night” or not sleeping prior to clinical.
  • Providing inappropriate information about personal life.
  • Actions that risk student and/or patient safety.

Finally, always avoid behavior or attitudes that diminishes, devalues or is uncaring towards any patient.

Set Realistic Goals Pat Yourself on the Back

I understand students are anxious and apprehensive. It raises a red flag when a student is overly confident and without any hesitation.  Your clinical instructor appreciates a student who asks questions and seeks clarification.  At the end of each clinical day, pat yourself on the back and reflect on what fear you overcame, what you learned and how you made a difference in your patient’s care.

Do you have tips or stories to share?  Would love to read your perspective.

Additional Information:

Seven Tips For Getting The Most Out of Nursing Clinicals

J. Adderton is a nurse with over 20 years experience in a variety of roles and settings. Nurse educator is one of her favorite nursing roles. If you enjoyed, read her other student focused articles on her Allnurses.com blog.

7 Followers; 59 Articles; 27,998 Profile Views; 278 Posts

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79 Posts; 716 Profile Views

Show up to the med pass knowing your meds. One student in my class passed a med and just said there was no known mechanism of action. But, in the drug guide it shows how they think it works. Giving any info that is in book versus nothing is better. That didn't blow over too well with the instructor.

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