How do you learn nursing skills at your school?


Several of my classmates and I are becoming increasingly frusturated with our educational program. Our skills course is worth 2 credits. There are multiple reading to do each week and objectives to help focus us. There are skills videos that show how to complete the skills but these are sub par at best. I feel like skills needs to have a lecture component to help us understand everything rather have to teach it all to ourselves. I also believe these need to be demo'd to us in person so we can have a better view/ can have all of our questions answered.

The lab portion of our class is supposed to be 1 hour 50 minuets, but after the 2 instructors (for a class of 20) explain what to do at the bedsides/ anser any questions there is only about 75 minutes left to complete 5-10 scenarios. It is very difficult to get their attention during lab as there are so many students with questions, so we cannot get the whole skill to watched to ensure we are doing it properly.

In addition, anxiety levels are sky rocketing with upcoming skill demos (we get one random IV med thing and one skill like complex dressingh change, chest tube drain set up, trach suctioning etc) and if we make one mistake we fail.

how are your skills classes set up? What do you think makes it conducive/ not conducive to learning?


449 Posts

Specializes in Trauma, Orthopedics.

In my a-bsn program, our health assessment lab is 3 hours consisting of skill demonstration then skill practice with higher level students/clinical instructors guiding us. Fundamentals lab is 6 hours, half lecture (in addition to regular lecture) half lab. So we do get a lot of practice time and guidance as there are only 8 people in the lab at the time. However, we are expected to watch videos and do readings beforehand to prepare.


10 Posts

Specializes in Emergency, Neuro Med-Surg, Home health. Has 1 years experience.

In our ADN program, which had a 100% pass rate for 2012, we have basically the same process for learning skills each semester. We have an explanation in our book (with illustrations) that we are supposed to read beforehand, and then the instructor demonstrates the skill in class. Sometimes they will also show a video. If we have time, we break up into small groups and practice what we just learned. But if not, then the lab is open 8-4 M-F, and we are expected to go in after class and work on it on our own. We are fortunate to have two RN lab specialists on staff who are there to answer any questions or work one-on-one with the students, but they are very busy, so we rely on each other a lot. Our instructors are there to reinforce the material covered in the book and answer questions, but it is our responsibility to learn the material.

I heard you say that you are concerned that you are not doing the skill properly because you do not have the opportunity for the instructor to watch and give feedback. I can relate to this problem because our skills are basically shown to us once and that is it. Would it be possible for you to practice outside of regular class time, with other students in the class? Your classmates can be a valuable resource. And then if you run into a specific problem, maybe you could ask the instructor to clarify just that portion that you are having trouble with?


39 Posts

In our class we have a lab/lecture 8-12 on tuesday. This is mostly a lecture about a skill, then we go to the lab to practice. Sometimes we don't go to the lab, sometimes we do. It depends on the skill. We also have videos that we are supposed to watch, but I usually just check out the skill on Youtube.

We do have a checklist that we are graded on, so we at least have an idea of what to expect. Our skill "check off" consists of a written quiz/test, and a demonstration of the skill. Last semester (Block 1) we had to have 100% on both written and demo. This semester (Block 2) our IV check off was a little more lenient.

If you are having trouble, you could go to Youtube and check out the skill. Some videos are what NOT to do, but you can glean some good info and technique. But, as you are aware, nothing beats hands on learning.

I would check to see if your school offers any open lab. Sometimes you have to sign up for it.

Specializes in Pediatrics, Emergency, Trauma. Has 18 years experience.

My program had the set-up of skills lab, as well as videos, along with open lab times, when there was a nursing instructor there, or open so that students can access to practice. IMHO, your program is pretty well set up for various learning styles. Remember, no one is expecting perfection...for example, I recall going through a skills test and I broke technique and stated I broke technique...I practiced at home, in the lab, watched the videos to get familiar, and I STILL broke technique, but, I KNEW it...that was the most important part to the instructors, and I passed, no points off, because I knew what misstep I took, and followed up with I would stop the procedure and start again...if students didn't state missteps, they had to be remediated because the instructors felt they could not identity if they made the misstep, resulting in unsafe care. It may be frustrating, but you are still learning, and this is the first step before you are in contact with a pt...not every school can afford a around the clock, state of the art simulation a prefect world, yes.. :) Just remember safe, unsafe care, utilize the nursing lab (STAYED in the nursing lab even in my senior year...hands on learner) and do the best you can! :)

Specializes in Primary Care; Child Advocacy; Child Abuse; ED. Has 25 years experience.

My program expects you to read and watch videos. In fundamentals we had skills lecture for 1:30 and 6 hours lab. We did rotations in groups of 7-9, 42 in our class. We had the chance to ask questions repeat procedures and ask for clarification with our sign off sheet. We could also meet with instructors later...if you haven't ask them go ahead they may meet with you. We also have a sims lab and nursing resource center. Sims lab they can help you with check offs and you can practice on your own in NRC. The NRC has all the supplies and procedures guidelines you need, all you have to do is go. We are lucky we have more than enough staff, we have over 10 clinical instructors to help us all we have to do is ask:) I hope that is the case for you! Good luck!!!

Skips, MSN, RN

505 Posts

Specializes in L&D.

In my first semester, we had a theory portion of fundamentals twice per week, and we have a "clinical" portion once per week from 7 a.m. until 12:50 p.m. During this time, we would be in skills lab. We would practice skills for the day after lecture and watching a video or two. Then, we'd have a couple of hours to practice the skills we were learning that day after our instructors demonstrated them for us. We could ask questions if we wanted to since they were in the lab with us. It was a nice way to learn, I thought.

Second semester, we were not checked off on skills. If we had the opportunity to do them in the hospital, then we did them. No checklists from instructors or anything like that.

This semester, we're expected to know how to do skills, as well as do them with our primary nurse or instructor in the room. After the primary nurse or instructor feels we are competent to do the skill, we can do it ourselves without anyone in the room.

I still have 4 semesters to go after this one, and I'm in a BSN program.


2,723 Posts

Specializes in Forensic Psych. Has 2 years experience.

For each skill we're assigned reading out of our clinical book. Then we do some activities and quizzes on the companion website. And finally, we go to lab. We spend 2 hours in lab a week. Usually half of that time is spent with a little lecture on the skill and a demo by the instructor and half the time is spent practicing on the mannequins. We also have an open lab set up where we can practice all of our skills before our final exam.

If we seem to be really struggling with a skill, our instructors will require us to work privately with one of our lab directors until we've gotten it down. They don't expect perfection in check-offs (they're really just saying that we're safe enough to practice in clinical with our CI) but they expect us to be safe and knowledgable about what we SHOULD be doing.


1 Post

Hi, There is a company that sells Portable Nursing labs. It's Simumedlabs that is how we practice our labs at home. They are reasonable the price is about the same as a text book less than 100 dollars. We also take them to the hospital so we can practice a skill before we actually do it on a real patient that really helps with nerves and patient safety. The lab allows you to practice foley cath, NG, suction, med administration, IV pad for practicing inserting IV's, injection pad, staple removal, wound care etc... I think you get the picture. I'm a hands on person so by having my own lab at my own house allows me to practice at 2am if I can't sleep. LOL Oh yea you can actually put betadine, alcohol, k-y jelly, tape on these parts and then throw them in the dishwasher. I love my lab it was well worth the money. I hope this helps.

nguyency77, CNA

527 Posts

My BSN cohort spends 12 hours in lab a week. We do our reading before class and watch some videos online. Then we come to class, and the concept is presented in lecture. Then off to lab to practice the skills. My program also allows us to come in for open lab once a week for 3 hours.