How To Do Cool Stuff In Clinical

I'm a new nurse but I'm already working with a lot of EMT and nursing students at work. I remember hating some days and rotations in school because I couldn't figure out how to find stuff to do, or I never got to see the cool stuff.

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Here's some tips from the other side:

- There are about 20 bazillion schools in my area. If you aren't from the school I attended, telling me what semester or rotation you're on tells me nothing (unless you tell me you're on your first or last one). Tell me what you're allowed to do or what your goals are. "I can give any medication except blood or chemo." "I want to work on my IV skills." "I need my instructor to supervise any Foley insertions."

- I work in the ER, where there is NO privacy. If I'm really encouraging you to do something boring with me, there's probably a reason behind it that I don't want to say in front of the patient. Yesterday I had a patient with really cool wounds that were in various stages of healing from newly formed to eschar covered. I asked one nursing student if she wanted to learn how to do wound cultures because I didn't want to say "Hey, check out this dude's funky arms! Aren't they awesome?" She was smart and caught on to what I was saying.

- Don't be afraid to say "Can I watch?" In the ER, there are overhead announcements whenever a critical patient comes in. We teach students what they mean so they can say "Hey, since we aren't doing anything right this second, I'm going to go check out that Code 3 GSW to the head." Be the awesome friend and if someone is pulling you in to watch a procedure, grab your classmate on the other side of the floor if time permits.

- Get my attention so I know you're there and looking to learn. If you're with the nurse next to me but really interested in one of my patients, don't be afraid to talk to me. Some of the EMT students spend the whole day taking histories from patients and when they ask me about my patients, I'll tell them who has an interesting story, who is cranky, and who doesn't speak English.

- Doing "scut work" for me gives you good karma, and makes me more likely to find you when something interesting is going on. Also, don't discount the skills you're learning when you're cleaning a patient who is taking lactulose, from log rolling to breathing through your mouth.

- Let me cheer you on. I had two patients who needed IVs yesterday. An EMT student missed twice on the first patient and he really didn't want to try on the second patient. After a little cheerleading from me and his instructor, he got the next patient on the first try and I hopefully will have some awesome IVs from the patients he brings me in the future.

- A lot of RNs have cool stuff on their unit that you don't think is cool. That just means you are probably not an ortho/dialysis/oncology nurse. I think the OR is deadly boring (sorry OR nurses!). Some students come to the ER and turn green at the really cool stuff we have. That's ok. Be nice and learn what you can.

RN in ER

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Wrench Party

823 Posts

Specializes in Cardiology, Cardiothoracic Surgical. Has 3 years experience.

Thanks for the advice! I've got 1 more year to go after this one, and I can't wait to graduate and get my license, get

some experience, and do what you are doing (being excited about showing gross and gnarly things to other students).

Keep up the good work- we students truly appreciate it. :cheers:

Esme12, ASN, BSN, RN

4 Articles; 20,908 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care, ED, Cath lab, CTPAC,Trauma. Has 43 years experience.

well said!:yeah:

Specializes in Trauma, Emergency. Has 10 years experience.

thanks for the advice! i have my peds and psych coming up this semester and tele and med surg behind me...always looking for new things to learn. :specs:

Specializes in LTC. Has 7 years experience.

I would just add to be willing to stay a little later at clinical if it means that you get a chance to see something cool or do something new. I had a few clinical days where I ended up getting done later than I was supposed to, but it was worth it for the stuff I got to see and do because I was willing to stay late.

writed

43 Posts

Thanks for taking the time to share some very helpful tips - and your enthusiasm. This is a learning adventure I am truly looking forward to.

lrobinson5

691 Posts

What an awesome post! I think This should be made available to every nursing student starting out so they have an idea of what to do during clinicals to maximize their learning. Thanks for sharing :)

Specializes in Emergency; med-surg; mat-child. Has 5 years experience.

I've been doing scut work under my own steam, like when the combative pt came in bleeding like a stuck pig and I changed her linens while the CNA wheeled the pt around to distract her. A nurse took notice, so I got to see a huge open wound before she put the vac in it. Doesn't hurt to help around the house.

chicklet74

32 Posts

To be fair, and this is in no way directed toward you, but when I was in nursing school alot of the RNs on our clinical units came off as completely unapproachable. Nursing students are already terrified half the time so I think it would help alot if we as nurses made some extra effort to let students know that we are there to answer questions or offer support. The students on my unit have tons to offer in the way of help so I find that if I just show some level of interest in what they're there to do, I have a very willing set of extra hands.

Where's the thumbs up button?!

There's 8 of us on our floor, and about 20ish patients. When we get there in the morning we let the nurses know that we can pass meds except for IVP, can spike IV bags, change dressings, start IV's, do Foley's, NG tubes. My instructor always finds something cool for us to do. We also offer to go to any tests with any patient as long as our patient is taken care of first!

SummitRN, BSN, RN

2 Articles; 1,567 Posts

Specializes in ICU + Infection Prevention. Has 11 years experience.

My most successful student lines are:

"I'm here to learn, see, and do as much as I can while being a help, not a burden."

"Where can I stand to best see this procedure without being in the way?"

"If there is any opportunity to do ____________ today, that would benefit me. In the meantime, can I do anything to help out?"

"That sounds like a good experience for me to observe/do; may I?"

Repeatedly volunteering to do the less pleasant things definitely made more than one RN come grab me when they had some awesome learning opportunity. I quickly stopped ever mentioning my EMT experience (unless asked) because it skewed expectations and created assumptions about what I was interested.

theantichick

320 Posts

Specializes in LTAC, ICU, ER, Informatics. Has 3 years experience.

What SummitAP said.

I haven't made it to the ER yet (that's for the Fall semester, can't WAIT) but on all the units I've been on, I work to make myself available for anything that will help the nurses and make their jobs easier, especially since some things we students have to do tend to slow them down a bit, I like to be conscious of that and try to make up for it a bit as I can. I have peers who will go out of their way to avoid doing care for their pts or helping with something they "already know" and just don't want to do. I let the nurses I'm working with know I'm wanting to learn all I can, and they will generally come and FIND me if something cool is going to happen.