Expect to be scared to touch that first patient. You will work really hard and have a lot expected of you. Ask a million questions. Expect to make mistakes- you'll learn from each one. Even when your completley stressed- try to keep your sense of humor. Know your meds, patient's condition, treatments, you will be asked every question imaginable about them. Offer to observe or help with any procedure you can. Talk to the nurses- ask for help- your instructor can't be everywhere at once- although sometimes it seems like it! Spend time talking with the patients- especially the older ones- you can learn so much. Stay in the room if the doctor comes in to talk to the patient- you can learn alot and maybe help the patient understand what the doctor said. It can be overwhelming-- but it feels great to make a patient's stay in the hospital easier or to have a patient thank you for helping them. Good luck!
Jul 25, '03
Prepare? Do your homework. Do your assigned reading. Practice your lab skills so you know what you're doing when you get to clinical.
When you get there? andi2634 summarized it very well. Know your meds. Remember the nursing process. Take advantage of every opportunity presented to you to participate in/observe procedures. Volunteer! Ask questions, no matter how silly or stupid they might seem to you. RELAX. Patients are people too. They usually don't bite...and if they try to, be nimble and get out of the way.
Clinicals? I love them. I feel like a duck in water every time I head to the hospital. Sitting through 3 hours of lecture is more arduous to me than 8+ hours in the clinical setting taking care of people.
Jul 25, '03
Great advice, Andi, I agree with everything. I remember the first patient I laid hands on, I felt like I was touching a porcelain doll. It's a very exciting time, though, all the books, picture and lab dolls are now turning into real people and the real learning begins. Definitely participate in all you can, observe as much as you can. Don't be afraid to ask if you can observe if you walk by a pt's room and see something interesting -- it's more knowledge and experience that you can accumulate. And try not to be intimidated by others - this is something I was guilty of for awhile but decided I was only hindering myself. The light clicked on and I realized that they were all once students themselves and they put their underwear on in the morning one leg at a time just like the rest of us. I remember last semester (my 2nd), it was a rather trying night on the floor we were working, a lot of commotion and confusion. Anyway, the irate son of a patient was flapping around yelling at people, demanding this and that. He wanted something for his father and saw me and read my name tag. He said "oh, you're just a student." I looked him square in the eye and politely said, "yes, everyone here has been at one time or another." He looked at me surprised and went about his business, but that felt good! Anyway, clinicals are an invaluable experience. To be honest, some days will be great, some maybe not so rewarding. But we all learn from our mistakes and each day is a learning experience. Enjoy them and good luck!!