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How do I gain experiences as a first year nursing student?

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Hello all,

I am in my first year of the practical nursing program and I am just itching to get some experiences in my field. I am aware that I cannot practice as a Nurse without the proper certification but does anyone have any idea of what job I can do so that I can at least get a taste of what nursing is like?

BTW I am from Toronto Ontario Canada... please reply if you have any suggestions :)

Hello all,

I am in my first year of Practical nursing in Toronto Ontario (CANADA), and I was wondering if anyone knows where i can work to gain some experience in my field... I am aware that I cannot practice as a nurse without proper certification so let me know if there is any type of work that i can do. I have just been itching to get some experience. I am very passionate about nursing and I really enjoy caring for others.

Here you can work as a patient care tech in most of the hospitals after you have completed your first semester of clinicals....mostly typical CNA duties....but I know some of the people in my class are techs and their charge nurses let them assisst in/perform anything that they have checked off in for nursing school.....not sure what your options might be there

There may also be more clerical positions you would eligible for. For example, in many organizations here in Texas, there are positions called health unit coordinators in hospitals. Only a high school diploma is required, and tasks include answering the phone, entering orders, scheduling appointments etc. Many nursing students in this area work in this role while in school. While you don't get much hands on patient care (other than occasionally helping to transport a patient, bringing water or assisting with positioning) you do learn a lot about health care systems, staffing models, medical testing and coding, charge capture and various issues that come up. You also get to observe nursing and advanced practice providers carry out their duties, interdisciplinary interactions and how to maintain an organized and well functioning unit in the midst of chaos.

Less chaotic environments with similar positions include clinics.

Good luck finding a good fit, I commend you for wanting all the experience you can get. I wish I had been in health care before completing nursing school, I believe doing so really gives students a leg up.

xokw, BSN, RN

Specializes in Public Health. Has 5 years experience.

Many long-term care facilities will hire nursing students to work as PSWs after their first semester. That is what I did and it gave me great experience.

Here you can work as a patient care tech in most of the hospitals after you have completed your first semester of clinicals....mostly typical CNA duties....but I know some of the people in my class are techs and their charge nurses let them assisst in/perform anything that they have checked off in for nursing school.....not sure what your options might be there

Word to the wise: Unless those actions are permitted for nursing aides by the applicable nurse practice act (NPA) those charge nurses -- and those students-- could be in a big hot mess of trouble. These charge nurses are not their instructors and do not have the line authority over them as students.

And the students are not "practicing under (someone else's) license," as there is no such provision in any NPA for any such relationship, including student-instructor. Every person in healthcare has a scope of practice. When a student is in clinical with an instructor or school-approved preceptor, she functions in the role of a nurse up to the limit of her education and experience only. She is responsible for knowing and acting under her scope of practice as a student and any limitations the school puts on that, e.g., " no invasive activities unless directly observed by the instructor" or "... the preceptor."

But when that student works as a nursing assistant or other position outside of school, she must not exceed the scope of practice of that position, no more than any other such person hired into that job.

That said, the very best thing you can do is to get a patient care job as an aide or equivalent. You will see what it's like to be a member of a caregiving team, what the other roles involve, and learn a lot of vocabulary. You'll have a leg up on the hands-on tasks an aide can do, and do not expect to get a leg up on nursing skills.

But if you are astute, you will observe the things nurses do that have nothing to do with their hands-- the assessment, the thought processes, the planning, the delegating. Ask questions like, "What went into that decision?" "Why did that happen like that?" Learning those sorts of things will give you a leg up on NURSING.

Word to the wise: Unless those actions are permitted for nursing aides by the applicable nurse practice act (NPA) those charge nurses -- and those students-- could be in a big hot mess of trouble. These charge nurses are not their instructors and do not have the line authority over them as students.

And the students are not "practicing under (someone else's) license," as there is no such provision in any NPA for any such relationship, including student-instructor. Every person in healthcare has a scope of practice. When a student is in clinical with an instructor or school-approved preceptor, she functions in the role of a nurse up to the limit of her education and experience only. She is responsible for knowing and acting under her scope of practice as a student and any limitations the school puts on that, e.g., " no invasive activities unless directly observed by the instructor" or "... the preceptor."

But when that student works as a nursing assistant or other position outside of school, she must not exceed the scope of practice of that position, no more than any other such person hired into that job.

That said, the very best thing you can do is to get a patient care job as an aide or equivalent. You will see what it's like to be a member of a caregiving team, what the other roles involve, and learn a lot of vocabulary. You'll have a leg up on the hands-on tasks an aide can do, and do not expect to get a leg up on nursing skills.

But if you are astute, you will observe the things nurses do that have nothing to do with their hands-- the assessment, the thought processes, the planning, the delegating. Ask questions like, "What went into that decision?" "Why did that happen like that?" Learning those sorts of things will give you a leg up on NURSING.

well we are first semester so our "skills" are limited and the majority of what we are doing so far several of the students who were techs prior to school were already doing at work anyway...depending on their facility....I just know that several others have had the opportunity to participate in things they weren't getting to participate in prior....I have no idea what their "scope of practice" is because I don't have one of those jobs...but like I said...we are first semester and most of these jobs list "finished the first round of clinical rotation in nursing school" as a qualification if you aren't certified...so I'm sure it's all well within their scope of practice....but they are gaining much more hands on experience in the skills we are practicing in lab....in a real life setting....the reason I suggested looking into something similar

well we are first semester so our "skills" are limited and the majority of what we are doing so far several of the students who were techs prior to school were already doing at work anyway...depending on their facility....I just know that several others have had the opportunity to participate in things they weren't getting to participate in prior....I have no idea what their "scope of practice" is because I don't have one of those jobs...but like I said...we are first semester and most of these jobs list "finished the first round of clinical rotation in nursing school" as a qualification if you aren't certified...so I'm sure it's all well within their scope of practice....but they are gaining much more hands on experience in the skills we are practicing in lab....in a real life setting....the reason I suggested looking into something similar

Precisely my point. What many nursing students think of as "skills" are manipulative actions, and at the end of your first semester most of the ones students have been exposed to are equivalent to the basic physical care delivered by nursing aides. That's why an aide job is so valuable-- to give you more practice in those manipulative tasks and opportunities for beginning to see how they fit into the greater picture of nursing, which you don't know yet. As an entry-level qualification for hire as a nursing aide, passing first semester is about the minimum a hospital could ask, but it's not blanket permission to exceed it as you go along.

If you don't know what a scope of practice is, you should find out. At the most basic, in any hospital job, you'll be able to get a job description. Anything that isn't in it, you ought not to be doing it, regardless of whether you are able to do it in the student setting with a formal, existing instructor-student and school-facility relationship to back you up.

Edited by cafeaulait