3rd semester nursing skills STUDY/PRACTICE Tips?


I've made it the first year, but now in 3rd semester there is more to do and I want to make the best use of my study/practice time for skills. Does anyone have suggestions/tips, etc. on how to practice Nursing Skills for check-off? I started making index cards for the steps, but seem to be putting in EVERYTHING I could say, and they look very very busy. I've spent more time making the flashcards than practicing the skill! I don't always have a study buddy, in fact only once a week do we practice together in the skills lab. What works for you? Thanks in advance.

Daytonite, BSN, RN

4 Articles; 14,603 Posts

Specializes in med/surg, telemetry, IV therapy, mgmt. Has 40 years experience.

I have always said that these skills demonstrations that students have to do for a grade are just like doing a performance in a play. They really won't make a lot of sense to you until you start doing them on real, honest to goodness patients.

Script them (that's your steps of the procedure and what you are supposed to do at each step). Block them (that's every movement you will make with your hands, fingers and legs as well as what props you will move around and where you will move them). Then, practice, practice, practice until you can say and do everything without even thinking. That's how stage actors learn their parts. By the time they go onstage to do a performance in front of an audience, every movement and every word is memorized. It may look fresh and spontaneous to you in the audience, but it is ingrained and has been performed hundreds of times already by the actors. In fact, the other actors also know everyone else's parts and blocking as well. If someone does make a mistake the other actors can cover it up and help get the other person back on track.


2 Posts

Thanks for your input. This is what I decided to do, and hopefully I will master the skill in less time than before.

  1. Do the pre-work (chapter readings/assignments) and scan over the skills steps.
  2. Watch & Listen in skills lecture/demo (instead of writing notes and missing a visual during demo).
  3. Practice in Lab right after class.
  4. Note Cards (Punch a hole in left corner and put on binder type of ring).
  5. Schedule practice time in Lab frequently, for no more than 1 hr at a time/day.
  6. Check-off no earlier than Noon, leaving the morning open for concentrated repetition/practice.

Now, this is the most beneficial part, I think... The note cards will be grouped into steps (instead of tons of notecards with every move/verbalization squeezed into the little 3 x 5 card). An example would be:

Front of Card: "When I get Dr. order for IV start, what would I do before entering patient's room?"

Back of Card:

  • Review Dr order
  • Is it complete?
  • Make sense for pt. diagnosis?
  • Allergies?
  • contraindications?
  • Compatible?
  • How long going to run?
  • Hard on veins?
  • Type of solution, action, side-effects?
  • Verify 5 rights: Patient, Drug, Dose, Route, Time (Do 1st Check)

Front of next card: "What equipment will I need?"

Back of Card: List items, verify exp. date/ sterility of packages, etc.

3rd Card: When enter room, what do I do before setting up equipment?

Back of Card: List something like; Knock, introduce self, purpose of visit briefly using their first name, verify ID, rest items on table, wash hands, provide privacy.

Something like that. I think grouping the steps this way will be easier to remember and THINK through logically. Before I was getting overwhelmed with the huge endless list of what to say and do!

I'm not sure why this was causing me so much trouble, but my study buddy suggested this idea to me. I hope this helps other students & your advice to think about check off like "show-time" helped too.



226 Posts

it sounds like you have found it helpful to break down your "very busy" index cards into more manageable parts. in the past i have read postings of students preparing for their clinical skills for excelsior college and they mention the

"critical elements" they must be sure to do during their skills.

i wondered if highlighting the critical elements on your "busy" cards might help you break them down even further and maybe prevent from leaving out a critical step.

for example:

3rd card: when enter room, what do i do before setting up equipment?

back of card: list something like; knock, introduce self, purpose of visit briefly using their first name, verify id, rest items on table, wash hands, provide privacy.

i get nervous when i am in a position of performing in front of others so it helps me to break things all the way down to the critical elements and ensure i won't forget those things.

best of luck in you third semester of nursing school.

Specializes in Telehealth, Hospice and Palliative Care. Has 7 years experience.

It depends what kind of learner you are, but I had some great scores with this technique:

Do the reading, listen, as questions, understand the 'why' in a way that makes sense to you.

Go through the list of required steps in order. (Add your own steps to the list of requirements as needed.)

Once you think you've got it, put the list of steps away and get a legal pad. Imagine that you're taking the test in the lab with your favorite smiling instructor, and write down the required steps, in order, while visualizing the process and what you're saying/doing, etc.

When you're finished go back to check against the list of required steps.

Pay attention to what you missed, why you missed it; think about the possibility of tweaking the order a little if instructors are the flexible sort and things will make more sense to you in a little different order

Do the above over and over and over, in line at the bank, in the bathtub, etc.

I don't think it will work if you don't visualize, though. Otherwise it's just words!

Happy testing!

PS On the last skills test out day we FIRST had another written, nonrelated test which I bombed (I timed out...didn't know there was a strict limit...my fault) and I was freaking out about the upcoming skills test.

We THEN had to listen to a lecture on being emotionally present for our clients, leaving our personal problems out in the hall, giving them our undivided attention to the best care, being emotionally present...

I suddenly realized that the dummy for test out was my patient too, and deserved my undivided attention no matter WHAT else was going on in my life, the same as any real patient.

I left my F outside the test out and breezed through the skills. It was good practice for me for my future care with patients, and a good lesson learned on many fronts!

(Sorry...kind of a long story...sleep deprived nursing student...)


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