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Is this a good guide for getting through clinicals?

I'll be starting nursing school in the fall and I'd like some advice. I keep hearing how people fail clinicals just for not knowing your med's information. Will it be that nerve wracking? I know I will prepare myself by looking up the patients information the night before. But, what if I receive that patient spot on and don't know all the answers? Will saying ill look it up get me through it? I'm just scared and if anyone can clear my confusion it will help me build my confidence a little more. Thank you for the help. :)

Edited by Esme12
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Esme12, ASN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care, ED, Cath lab, CTPAC,Trauma. Has 40 years experience.

First of all...breathe! Never forget to take a deep breath...then proceed.

Yes you can say to a patient...I am not sure but I will look it up for you. When you are being "tested" by your instructor remember to breathe...from your toes to your forehead. The answer WILL come to you. If not come home and I or one of the other seasoned nurses who hang out here will help you find your answers.

Try to not get overwhelmed right now. Yes there is a TON of information....but that will come with time. ALways think...ABC ariway breathing circulation. What will kill this patient first or the fastest.

It WILL be ok ((HUGS)) Congrats on your admission

In my experience, people who fail because of not knowing their medications (or whatever else) have repeatedly shown that they were not prepared even after being placed on re-mediation or receiving a verbal warning, etc.

Telling your instructor you will look it up usually conveys a positive message and shows them you are trying to figure things out for yourself. You should bring a drug reference book with you to clinical for this reason.

As far as getting a new patient on the spot...Well of course you wouldn't know all of their meds, just look it up that night for the next day or even better refer to your drug book! try your best to know common meds specific to that floor so that you will be prepared no matter what happens.

Anyway, without rambling on, I guess what I'm trying to say is prepare to the best of your ability, listen to your instructor's feedback, and always work to learn from your mistakes and you'll be fine.

Sorry for any typos, smart phones and I don't get along.

Good Luck on your nursing school journey!

You guys are awesome! Ill take all these things into consideration. Helpful nurses like you are the backbone to this career. Ill let you know how it goes.

Carpediem1012, BSN, RN

Has 7 years experience.

Are you taking pharmacology before clinicals start? Here are my two best hints. First, learn the drug classes. Know how they generally work and what they are generally used for. That will tell you a lot about each med individually so you at least have a clue and can tell your instructor something. Then you can always say that you would like to double check before administering it if there is time. Secondly, think about the ward you will be working on. There are many similar drugs that you will encounter for specific diseases and disorders. Learn them. Write them on flash cards and carry them in your pocket. We were told before clinicals we had to do research and know all of our meds that we would administer. I would keep referring to my flash cards for a few min each day when I had a chance. When my instructor was grading my med admin the first few times I gave them, she would quiz me and I would answer her questions the best I could. She had a straight face and would just say things like,"yes", "ok", etc. It was only when we got our final marks that she told me she was stunned that I was explaining the MOA etc at the cellular level and all of the necessary pre and post assessments that were needed! Lol! I thought I was barely keeping up! Basically, in the beginning, have an understanding of what they are for and what to watch for. They know you are new. It won't take long for you to understand the whys and the hows. They will all start to make sense! Good luck!

It will be pharmacology with adult health 1. The flashcards are a good idea! I'll use that as well as my drug book.Thank you for the input.


Specializes in L&D, infusion, urology. Has 2 years experience.

I can only speak for my own program. We didn't have a separate pharm class; it was integrated into the other courses.

For the first semester, we went in the night before, and looked through the patient's chart (still on paper!) then looked up all of their meds in the computer. Then we had to make cards for each of their meds and research their diagnosis/diagnoses and anything pertaining to their care. We had the Davis Drug Guide, and I'm sure you'll have something similar if you don't already. We could reuse the med cards for the next week if the patient had any of the same meds (same throughout the semester). Making the cards is a good way to learn the meds.

Second semester on (with the exception of the ICU), we found out about our patient(s) the morning of. By then, we knew most of the meds that were common (dilaudid, colace, insulin, etc.), so we could look things up fairly quickly before the AM med pass. Our instructor always asked us what the meds were for. Remember that it's important that you know why YOUR patient is taking this medication, NOT just why it CAN be given (if that makes sense). For example, guanfacine is a blood pressure med, but it's also given for ADHD and Tourette's, so if your patient doesn't have high blood pressure, know their other diagnoses (but still know their AM BP!).

You figure it out quickly, and most computerized med admin systems have a way of looking everything up by clicking on something. Even if you can't necessarily take the time to look it up in your book, you can at least briefly look it up. Also, make sure that your patient's meds don't interact or aren't contraindicated with their diagnoses- a classmate of mine caught an error when her patient had Parkinson's, which was a contraindication of one of their meds, and the MD changed to another med.

Also, know what you need to know when giving that med. What do you need to know before you give a beta blocker? Heparin? A good instructor will ask! :)

We don't do pre-clinicals so we look up the meds right before we give then. One thing I can say for certain is show some initiative. If there is a skill that needs to be done, ask if you can do it. Help the nurses on the floor and treat the nursing assistants with respect. You are NOT better than they are because you are a nursing student (we have some in our group who feel that way). They are a wealth of information and they can be more help than anyone. And for the love, DON'T argue with your clinical instructor either! It won't end well for you if you do.

Ok I'll definitely keep in mind these tips. And, revisit this thread when I start. Thanks a lot to those who responded. :)