1st semester clinical rotation

Nursing Students Student Assist


Hi everyone. I will be starting my clinical rotation this fall. Orientation is on Aug. 20th. I want to be as prepared as possible. Are there any important items I need? Is it necessary to have a lap top or really good PDA?

Any tips advice etc... will be greatly appreciated. I have read some of the other posts and beginning to get more freaked out. I want to do the best I possibly can should I start purchasing NCLEX practice stuff now?


I personally found my PDA to be an invaluable tool during my first and second semester clinical rotations. I have a Palm TX and bought the Skyscape constellation with Mosby's Lab, Taber's Medical Dictionary, and Saunders.

As well for clinicals, always arrive early for clinicals (eat a small breakfast if your clinicals are in the morning), research your patient's diagnosis(s) well, know all about all their meds, and present yourself enthusiastically with a willingness to learn!

I believe it was during second semester that my NS posted a link on blackboard for NCLEX 3500 which we can use for free. I've been reviewing that. I wouldn't purchase any books or anything related to NCLEX yet, however. Congratulations and best wishes as you begin your journey during NS.

Don't bring your laptop to the clinical site. You won't have a locker for it and you'll need to leave it behind somewhere when not using it. Too risky.

My PDA was somewhat helpful, but it wasn't essential. My school gave us PDAs as part of a pilot experiment assessing whether or not they made a difference in clinicals. I mostly used mine to draw caricatures of my professors and then transfer them wirelessly to my friends. I'm more comfortable using books. Also, no nurse on my floor uses PDA; we have access to Micromedex online, and you probably will as well, even at the clinical site.

You will be fine and you'll do great. Good luck!

Edited to add: regarding the NCLEX, I definitely would not start studying for it now. You're going to be overwhelmed absorbing the required material as it is. The Saunders NCLEX book, however, is particularly helpful as a study guide for school. I used it not to study for NCLEX itself but rather to augment my studying for classes. Saunders rocks.

Specializes in Emergency.

Another slight spin on things:

I find my PDA to be as important a tool as my stethoscope. It allows me to look things up at the bedside. I have no problem saying "I don't know, let's look it up" to a patient. I have also never had a patient say anything negative about my looking up information while standing next to them.

Eat a large breakfast. If your clinical starts at 7am, then you're probably eating breakfast no later than 6am. If lunch is at noon, then it'll be 6 hours without food (and you won't always eat on time). Food is fuel, don't let the tank run dry.

It's never too early to start thinking NCLEXy. My school happens to use NCLEX style questions on tests, so I get to kill 2 birds with one stone. Tthe more practice I get in "2 answers are right, but one's more right", the better I do on current tests and the more prepared I'll be for the NCLEX. Plus, you get another review of the material you're currently studying.

Don't worry about being nervous. Everybody's nervous when stepping into the unknown. Just don't let your nervousness control you. You control the nerves. Methods vary. I'm partial to the "let's do this" school of thought. As that deep thinking philosopher, Larry the Cable Guy, has said "Git 'er done".

Thanks for the input. I do not want to start off behind everyone else so your input is important and appreciated.

I can hardly wait to get started.

Thanks again. :)

I would suggest you have your own blood pressure cuff so you won't have to wait on other students to finish using theirs. Bring a watch, a penlight, a notebook, a bag to keep your things in, alcohol swabs and a snack and your stethoscope of course. Practice taking vitals on your friends and family so can get good at it.

Specializes in Med-Surg, Cardiac.

I love my PDA for clinical. I use it mostly for looking up meds. I try to have most of the meds studied before going in for clinical (we have a prep day where we get a list of the pt's meds before clinical), but then the MDs go and order new meds on morning rounds.

My instructor wanted all her students to have a stethescope, scissors, penlight, and a Sharpie marker. I've found all these to be very useful.

The funny thing is the instructors kept warning us that people will take off with our stethescopes, but it's the scissors I've been having trouble hanging on to.

Specializes in DOU.

I don't use a PDA. In fact, our school never suggested we get one (although a couple of students did).

Some of the books I have used in clinicals were "RNotes" pocket guide by Ehren Myers, and in case your patient gets sent home early and you have to pick a new one, I suggest you purchase "the Clinical Companion for Medical-Surgical Nursing" by Ignatavavicius.

This is a GREAT thread...I really hope to see more contributions from other experienced students.

ctstudent said:
i would suggest you have your own blood pressure cuff so you won't have to wait on other students to finish using theirs. bring a watch, a penlight, a notebook, a bag to keep your things in, alcohol swabs and a snack and your stethoscope of course. practice taking vitals on your friends and family so can get good at it.

ditto on everthing this person said!

i love having my own bp cuff. you get your vitals done so much quicker than having to wait on everyone. remember to stock up on alcohol swabs when you get to clinicals. i love my pda, but it really isn't necessary if you can't afford the expense right now. i also recommend a clipboard. i didn't purchase one for the first year of nursing school-- but i'm going to when fall quarter hits!

good luck!

Specializes in Geriatrics, Transplant, Education.

I would say definitely your own stethoscope and BP cuff, be sure to clean them appropriately, and if you're in a contact precautions room, use the equipment dedicated to that pt. Penlight too.

Med cards, for your med pass...in med-surg we couldn't pass meds if we didn't show a handwritten med card for the med. I don't use a PDA, as my school didn't require it, but it seems that a lot of schools do now.

For me, clipboards are cumbersome, too much to carry, and a major pain. I developed a clinical report sheet which works for me--just a simple slip of paper with what I needed to know about the pt, and places for me to check off things I needed to do (AM care, meds, treatments, iv checks, tube feeds, pca, etc.) Try suggestions from others, and you'll end up finding a system that works for you.

Good luck in nursing school!

Specializes in Med-Surg, Cardiac.

I'm kind of surprised by all the people that bring their own BP cuffs. Aren't BP cuffs essentially diagnostic equipment? And therefore isn't the hospital responsible for ensuring that they're properly calibrated? I'm surprised that the hospital would allow uncertified cuffs. That would be a lot like bringing in your own glucometer.

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