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skills check-offs are killing me!


looking for any helpful hints of advice on this one ...

in the program i am in right now, we have 3 chances to pass a skills check-off before we get "remediation" and once that happens, they basically put you on probation and will drop you out of the program if they think you are inadequate...

all semester long, i have had trouble with the skills check-offs because i get so nervous, everything just flies out of my head. i have a very hard time focusing and sorting out the thoughts in my head when i get nervous... i normally nail it on the second try, but today i screwed up on the straight catheter check-off for the 2nd time!

i do really well on the tests and in clinical, i just need some advice on how to get through the skills check-offs... i practice them at home but i don't have anyone to critique what i am doing so it's kind of pointless if i don't realize i am doing something wrong...

i am on medication for anxiety but for some reason it's not doing the trick ...

if any of you have any words of wisdom i would appreciate it!

WOW..3 tries. we only get once then we have proficiency checkoff!

But my entire class tries to remain calm and go in a remember that we know what we are doing. Try and get together with other classmates before your checkoff outside of lab time so that you can practice more. It really does help to have someone there watching so they can tell you what your doing wrong.

Just remember...keep thinking positive and things work out ALOT better!

Hope this helps somewhat.


Specializes in Home Care.

Eat before you do your check offs, don't consume caffeine and breathe!!!


i think part of the problem is that we get absolutely no time in the lab as a class to practice... they literally show us a video and say, "Good luck." we get next to no instruction at all and are told just to look at our books ... reading about it is a lot different than doing it, and doing it right!

i am trying to stay positive... my instructors say "there are three blank lines there for a reason..." on our check off sheets ...

SolaireSolstice, BSN, RN

Specializes in Adult Oncology.

You don't need lab time. I spent time at home pretending to put a foley or "putting in" an IV (actually was a ball point pen, but *I* knew what it was supposed to be) or "giving medications" to my husband and kid. They would run when they saw me pull out a tourniquet. I can't wait until it's trach care practice time. If you don't have someone who will let you "pretend" on them, use a doll or a teddy bear. It doesn't matter. You just need practice talking yourself through the steps.


Specializes in Cardiac, Derm, OB.

Get your checkoff list out or your Basic nursing skills book out and read through the steps. Then"practice" on doll, stuffed animal ect, and as you begin have your list beside you and verbalize EVERY step outloud as you do it, then verbalize without a list and do it over and over. Then when you go to check off, as you go through the steps verbalize it to the instructor just like in practice. This will help keep you focused and not off track.

Hope this helps.

I know how you feel!!!

I do not start the actual nursing program until January, but right now I am taking a Med First Responder class (I was already done w/all the other pre and co-reqs), and we have to do skill assessments all the time. It is sooooooooo nervewracking!!!

I seriously *know* the material, and practice on family, but when it comes to one-on-one time w/the prof I freak out! :bugeyes: I start to tremble, my neck and chest get splotchy, my voice wavers, I start sweating, and I draw blanks and just sit there like a complete idiot! I'm a fairly intelligent person; I have been working with the public for almost 14 years, and yet when I have to do these assessments I just become spaz. :selfbonk:

I hope at least (for me) that these assessments now are helping to desensitize me for what is to come with skills check-offs.

*sigh* I guess I cannot help in this situation, but at least you can rest assured that you are not alone!!!

Good luck... lol... to both of us! :D

I'm the same way. I will study beforehand and then go in there and forget what I just read, just because I am so nervous. Good luck to you!!!!

I HATED skills class. Sounds alot like mine from a year ago. I finally ended up following around kids in my class and asking them if they wanted to practice sometime... this was actually the hardest part! I made friends, and even though I started off as the one who needed the MOST help (literally!!!!!) every one was super nice to me and were glad to feel better about themselves when they helped. I was sick this year a lot and had to miss a few classes (3rd semester advanced skills)... so I ended up making really good friends with the girls (MSN's hired by the college to run the labs for practice) and just stuck it out. They gave me tips about what the teachers were really looking for us to be able to do when presented with a situation, and about how the testing would be run. Good luck girl, and exhaust those resources!!!!!

-I understand how frusterating it is- I feel your pain. Good luck to all.

you sound like me when I did skills check offs (the instructors always said if you're nervous now wait until you do it on a patient--they were wrong, it is so much easier on a patient). One time we were all checking vitals after skills check offs, mine were ridiculously high because of how nervous I was. Anyway, finally close to the end of the semester I figured it out. Oh we only had 1 before remediation and then we had to pass with an average of passing- so they are graded 1-5 so if you got a 1 the first time, you needed a 5 the second time (I have never failed one though).

Practice with a friend--be highly critical of each other, try to mimic the snippy comments the nursing instructors make or do loud buzzing sounds for every mistake.

Talk out loud while you are doing it, say what you are doing, it will calm you down and they will at least be able to see your line of thinking.

Be very exaggerated for check offs, it helps you remember and then there are no questions about breaking sterility.

Make it a game, it is fun--so have fun with it.

If you do make a mistake, ask if you can start over. Don't hope they missed it because they didn't, if you tell them they may let you start over.

Also, do some relaxation techniques before going in or even if you get to flustered in there stop and take some deep breaths...just try to decrease your anxiety and relax. You'll make it through.

You should have seen me in my final skills (where we do everything from all semester) check off though...my cheap name tag fell off during a sterile dressing change right onto one of my gloves. So I said well I would have to get new sterile gloves, my instructor says or you could finish it one handed, so that is what I had to do, I was visibly shaking...lol.