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Practicing Assessments on Fellow Students?


Specializes in ICU. Has 6 years experience.

Do your programs have you practice assessments on each other in lab? Is this common?! I was very surprised to find out this is expected of us at my school. It seems a little unprofessional (or just plain wrong) to expect us to examine our colleagues. We are supposed to wear a sports bra and biking-type shorts (for girls; just shorts or boxers for the guys) and a patient gown. Obviously we've all seen tons of bodies before...but I'm a really private person and am uncomfortable exposing so much during an assessment by a fellow student! Am I just being over sensitive?


Has 10 years experience.

During my BSN program, we did physical exams on each other....I'm a male and just wore boxers. The girls wore short pants/boxers, sports bra's, and we all were covered with a gown. It was all done professionally and none of the 24 students in my ABSN program seemed to have a problem with it. Nobody's private parts were exposed. We were all a little older and more mature. I probably would let a bunch of middle school students do this...they are not mature enough for it. But we were all grown adults going into the medical field, so we didn't have a problem with it.


Specializes in CEN, CFRN, PHRN, RCIS, EMT-P. Has 10 years experience.

I'd let the instructor know you're uncomfortable with it, they will find an alternative for you.

TheCommuter, BSN, RN

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych. Has 15 years experience.

Do your programs have you practice assessments on each other in lab?
I am not in a nurse practitioner program, but when I was in nursing school, yes we were expected to perform an assessment on another student in the lab portion.


Has 5 years experience.

When the other alternative is to examine a plastic dummy, I have no issues being examined by the class to give them some experience. Some of us are blessed with a personality that allows us to be comfortable enough to do everything in the hospital clinicals cold; others need a little on ramp. Think of it as a teamwork exercise to help your classmate, who probably feels more uncomfortable than you, make that transition from awkward to professional. One way or another you will face discomfort as a nurse. Better to practice that in a controlled environment.

zmansc, ASN, RN

Specializes in Emergency.

I don't see anything wrong with it. You expect others to be ok with you performing a physical exam on them in the healthcare setting, so why not in this setting as well? And vice versa? I'm assuming we aren't talking prostate exams, breast exams, or paps, right? I mean if we are talking about something where private areas are involved most schools will use paid actors for signoffs of those exams.

Emily2016, BSN

Has 5 years experience.

we did this at my school. nobody will ever see your private parts and you'll never see theirs. the more you practice and do your assessments, the more comfortable you will get. you won't even think twice about changing into the gown by the end of the semester. good luck!

We do this in my np program. Our physical assessment exam was done on an assigned classmate who is wearing underwear and a bra and a patient gown. There was no alternative for students who felt uncomfortable. In the end, passing the class was a priority over comfort with our partners! It would have been nicer to be able to choose our own partners but they were assigned. When a classmate of mine voiced concern, the school said that we are all professionals and should be able to act appropriately in order to learn the necessary material.

So yes, it is common for schools to require this of you.


Specializes in ICU. Has 6 years experience.

Thanks for the replies!

I have no intention of voicing my discomfort to my instructors... Just needed to question/vent on here!

I do expect it of my actual patients...just as I am expected to do it when I'm a patient. Just think it's awkward to examine a fellow student. We, of course, are all professional about it. It just makes me uncomfortable to bare that much- and then see them in class the next day. (Awkward moment of today- me holding my breast out of the way for my lab partner to find my PMI.) I get it though- we've all seen it all before...no big deal. Just makes me uncomfortable...and I dread going to lab.

Glad to know it's not just my program making us suffer! :)

Oh yes, it definitely can get awkward! Especially seeing all of the " normal variants" on your classmates! And then discussing it!

Barnstormin' PMHNP

Specializes in psychiatric. Has 4 years experience.

Yes we do this too. I personally don't have a problem with it, but I'm older and a mom thus I have no modesty left lol. I actually have some neat things that are good to see in an assessment. Sometimes someone gets a fit of the unprofessional giggles, but it has been a really good learning and bonding experience for everyone....... Especially doing HEENT and using the equipment that we didn't get to play with as nurses!


Specializes in ICU. Has 6 years experience.

I probably shouldn't care after having had 3 kids myself! And it totally doesn't bother me to go to the Dr office and let a medical student/intern/resident do my exam. It just bothers me now cause I have to continue on in classes with everyone for the next 2 years. I'd like to keep my many imperfections hidden under clothes! :)

But I agree - it's nice to have a real person to practice on when it comes to the otoscope and ophthalmoscope (which are more complicated than I ever imagined)!

Barnstormin' PMHNP

Specializes in psychiatric. Has 4 years experience.

Aren't they though? But really fun and a great tool to assist with diagnosis, particularly the eye. I know that everyone feels awkward, even the ones that look like they have nothing to hide lol. I feel I earned my imperfections and now that I am older it's a relief to be able to embrace the sag. :up:


Specializes in ICU. Has 6 years experience.

embrace the sag. :up:

Hahaha! My new moto! :)