How being a family member helps me prepare for nursing.

Nursing Students General Students


Specializes in Med/Surg, Academics.

We've heard it over and over. "How would you feel if that was your family member in the bed?" Those words are usually meant as an admonition to vent posts about patients and their perceived bad behavior.

I choose to use those words a little bit differently. As a student, I have anxiety in clinicals just like every other student out there. Will I know what to do? How can you tell if someone is going south? What does all this mean? Will I remember my readings and lectures and be able to apply the information?

A few days ago, I was thinking about ways to increase my ability to recall my learning in a clinical situation. Anxiety sometimes causes brain farts, and all the book learnin' doesn't always translate well to real (student) nursin'.

Then, I thought about when my children, husband, and MIL are sick or not feeling well. I have confidence as a mother, wife, and caregiver, and I assess their symptoms, figure out what is generally wrong, and I treat it within my ability. If it's something serious, I call the doctor.

Is being a nurse like being a hyper-educated family member who everyone goes to for their latest sniffle or boo-boo? Yes, I think it is. Of course, it's much more than that, but the process is the same.

When I'm in clinical, I think, "How would I feel if that was my husband or kid or MIL in that bed?" Although it's taken some time to use that mindset, I find that it clears my mind, and I actually see the patient in front of me, rather than the pages of my textbook that I am mentally flipping though to find the answer. As if by magic, anxiety subsides a bit, and the information that I've worked so hard to retain starts flowing much more freely.

Just as we don't completely let go of anxiety when a family member is sick regardless of the amount of confidence we have in that role, we shouldn't be anxiety-free in a clinical situation. The key is using it to a positive outcome. We still ask questions if we're unsure. We still seek out other, more experienced people for assistance. Nursing, or at least student nursing, is no different. No one person knows all the answers, but our listening and learning helps us ask the right questions.

It doesn't really matter if you have experience as a parent or spouse or caregiver. Just do what you have to in order to see the patient, rather than your textbook, powerpoints, and notes. The patient is giving us the information we need to know, and we need to be able to clear our senses and really "listen" to what their mouths and bodies are saying to us. Then, and only then, does that expensive hyper-education kick in...and you might find that the book learnin' comes to you surprisingly quickly.

This is what I have done, and I hope it gives you some food for thought on turning your own clinical anxiety into something more effective.

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