night before clinicals-going to the hospital

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I am about to re-start nursing school in the fall and was wondering if any of you could tell me what goes on the day before clinicals when you go to the hospital to pick up your patient load for the next day.

How long does it typically take and what is the goal of going? Are you creating a nursing plan/going through the patient's chart? Just trying to figure out what is involved and about how long it takes to do it.

thanks, carla


176 Posts

Carla- when you go to get your patient the day before clinicals the goal is to give you knowledge about the patient. What is their disease process. Why are they on these meds and especially what are the side effects of these meds. One thing that helped me out when I did clinicals was that when I went up there I introduced myself to the patient so the next day when I was taking care of them they were familiar with me. Another thing is that it will help you think of nursing interventions you can do then day of your clinical.


101 Posts

So, do you have wear your uniform to the hospital, about how long do you stay there?


176 Posts

We just dressed halfway nice and wore labcoats with a name badge


77 Posts

Hi Carla, we were required to dress in nice clothing (slacks or dresses) and wear our lab coat with our name badge. We went to the hospital, looked through charts and found our patient. We would write down all of the history of this admittance to the hospital, diagnoses, meds, and abnormal lab values. Then we could go meet our client if we wanted. Once we are home, we have to write a care plan with a nsg diagnosis, short term goal, 3 interventions and rationale. Then we memorize all of the medications (trade name, generic name, action, therapeutic effect, 3 side effects, and 3 nursing implications). :) Hope that helps!


130 Posts

Specializes in Telemetry and ER.

Carla, yes our school goes the night before and pretty much does like the other posts said. However, I have been up till 2 in the morning trying to learn all the meds! :o Im just telling you so that you are prepared. I was not prepared to spend so much of my time up all night, but it is definetely a lot of work. I remember that first time we went up to look at the pt chart and I thought I was reading chinese!!! :angryfire But now I am in and out in usually 1/2 an hour. Our school purposely does not tell us how to interpret the chart so we can figure it our on our own. I just have to keep telling myself "Its all a learning process" :rotfl: Good Luck Im sure you will be GREAT!!!


101 Posts

Thanks for all the answers!


353 Posts

Specializes in Rehab, Step-down,Tele,Hospice.

What I really like is when you go through all the trouble of doing your night before stuff and come morning the pt has been D/C over the night. :angryfire


27 Posts

There is a product that are med cards in a box and each one is on a note card. My instructor let us keep the ones we needed that day in our pocket so we could refer to them as needed. Glad I didn't have to memorize my meds, just had to know what they were and their use.

Katnip, RN

2,904 Posts

What RNKitty said. Happened to me quite a lot. Pt. died, was transferred, or D/c'd. Made for a lot of wasted work the night before. On the other hand, when I did get the patient, I had a great idea of what to expect beforehand.


532 Posts

We go the hospital the night before, wearing nice clothes (no jeans) and a labcoat with our id. We have to find out about the pt's diagnosis, diet, activity level, I&O, IV's - drug and rate, drains, PCA, medications, lab values, O2, dressing, surgical procedures, etc. Then at home we have to write up a page on the pathophysiology of their diagnosis, research all meds and create a careplan with a nursing diagnosis, 5 interventions and outcome statements. During the day of clinical, we have to complete a physical evaluation of all body systems and write nurses notes. We also chart diet, am care, I&O and activity into the hospital computer. The rest of the paperwork goes to our instructor.

It's a lot of paperwork, especially with multiple patients.


40 Posts

Like the previous posters, we are required to go in to our unit the day before clinical to get our patient assignments and read their charts. Basically our instructors expect us to get their admitting dx., any past medical hx or co-morbidities, what meds they're on, any specific nursing care (i.e. wound changes, IV's, etc.), key lab values and any trends/patterns in their status (i.e. are their vitals steady over time or are they going up/down). I think that's it.

It usually takes me anywhere from 15 mins - 45 mins. Sometimes the patient's chart is really thin, like if they've just been admitted, so it takes less time. Then the real work begins when you get home and you have to do up a careplan and research all the meds and make sure you understand the pathophysiology of the illness and make sure you know how to provide all the care you'll be expected to provide. It's ok when you only have one patient, but when you get up to 3 -4, it can be really time-consuming. We get to keep med cards with us too in our pockets throughout the day, and I usually make reminder notes for myself as well, just in case I need them.

About introducing yourself to patients on the day before clinical, some of our instructors encourage this and others don't. The last unit I was on was a cardiology/telemetry unit and we were specifically asked not to introduce ourselves to our patients the day before. Apparently they'd had a situation in the past where one patient got so worked up over the night after their student nurse had introduced themselves that they ended up going into cardiac arrest. So, the charge nurse asked students not to go in to the patients rooms on the days before clinical. I would check with your instructors what their preferences are regarding introducing yourself to patients the day before.

Oh yeah, and we are expected to dress nicely (i.e. no jeans, etc.) and wear our lab coats with our name tags

Good luck!

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