Another question about clinicals and brain freeze

  1. I am about to head into my med-surg clinical here and feeling a bit anxious.

    Picture this scenario:
    You are in the pt room and the instructor does one of those little unexpected quizzes on you (that I keep hearing so much about)....while you probably know the answer or something close to the correct answer, your brain freezes up and you are standing there with no answer, and the patient and perhaps every member of his family are waiting for you to answer your instructor...all eyes on you lol...and the instructor tapping her foot waiting....

    Is it ok to say: "You know, I do know that answer, I am having a brain freeze at the moment, but if you ask me again later, I will most definately have an answer for you. Or......

    Are you doomed because you cannot answer the question immediately.

    How does one cope with brain freeze!! without frustrating the instructor and failing clinical?
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    About Dratz

    Joined: Jun '04; Posts: 244; Likes: 1


  3. by   elkpark
    First, as far as I know (obviously, I haven't watched every other clinical instructor in action), we (clinical instructors) would never put students on the spot in front of a client and her/his family, just as we would never do that with a colleague (as much for the well-being/confidence of the client and family as the colleague -- don't want someone to have to lie in bed worrying that the people caring for her/him don't know what they're doing! Plus, most everyone in healthcare makes an effort to avoid making each other look bad in front of clients/families, for the simple reason that "what goes around, comes around" -- once you start that sort of thing, where does it end?) Simple "do you know what you're supposed to know/are you clear on how to do what you're about to do" questions get asked outside the client rooms and away from hospital staff. If the instructor is in a room with a student and sees the student apparently about to do something questionable/dangerous, you calmly stop what you're doing and ask the student to step out of the room with you (inventing a reason, if necessary) so you can speak in private. So you probably (unless you have a v. unusual clinical instructor) don't have to worry about being put on the spot in front of clients/families or even the hospital staff. The kind of "quiz" questions you're talking about get asked in private or, at worst , in front of your classmates only (so the whole group can participate in & benefit from the discussion).

    Second, yes, we are aware that students are nervous in clinicals and might be more likely to freeze up when asked a question. Unless it's a "how to" question about a procedure you're just about to do, it's usually okay to say, "Ooooh, I know that but I'm drawing a blank at the moment." (Assuming that's true, of course -- if you don't know and you're BSing the instructor, s/he will figure that out in due time.) We were all nursing students at one time, too, you know! BTW, one "trick" that I have found helpful over the years in that kind of situation (sudden brain freeze) is to start talking in very general terms about whatever the topic of the question is, and, once you're talking, the answer you're looking for is likely to occur to you (assuming that it's in there somewhere to begin with). Sort of jump-starts or reboots your brain ...

    One other little tip: I would definitely not say, "If you ask me again later, I'll have an answer ..." I would promptly go find the answer and take it to the instructor on my own, instead of waiting for her/him to approach me again.

    Good luck with your studies and clinical!
  4. by   Dratz
    Perfect!!!.....Thanks...and yes, duh, I would get the answer immediately!!! (didn't think I was given that opportunity to go find it)

    Reason I asked is first clinical experience way way back in the 80's, the instructor had absolutely no qualms about pitching a fit or humilating students in front of family, patients or whoever happened to be standing there. She was a terror and I ended up quitting school over it..

    Thanks kindly for your tips.