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Suggestions for an eager student!

Nurses   (2,971 Views 21 Comments)
by AZnursingstudent04 AZnursingstudent04 (New Member) New Member

917 Visitors; 12 Posts

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Hey everyone!

I am a student graduating in June. The reason I posted this question in the nurse forum is because I need advice! Sorry if I posted this in the wrong place or if this has already been a topic. I searched and didn't find anything!

So. I am in my critical care rotation now and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it! Sometimes though, I get nurses who seem to hate having students! When I get to the floor, I smile and say hi to everyone. I find the charge nurse and ask which nurse I will be assigned to, and politely introduce myself to him/her. Sometimes (about 30% of the time) they smile and say hi back and happily assign me to a nurse. The other 70% of the time, they give me a fake smile or role their eyes and completely ignore me so I have to track someone down to help me. Then when I DO get paired with a nurse, she doesn't talk to me or let me help all day! The other day, I literally had a nurse look at me and just totally walk away. My classmates and I have also heard nurses talk about how they don't like having students. I used to think it was just me (do i look funny? am i not polite??) but then I hear ALL my classmates saying the same things. I DON'T GET IT!! What am I doing wrong?? Or what can I do/say to let nurses know that I actually care and am capable of doing things?

For the record, I KNOW that I'm smart and competent and have had nurses that talk about how helpful and knowledgeable I am. Not trying to toot my own horn, I'm just trying to tell you guys where I'm coming from. Sorry for the rant and I'm hoping I can get some suggestions on what to say/do :)

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4,647 Visitors; 145 Posts

I'd quit worrying about it, actually. I ran into the same thing a couple times during clinicals. I think they are worried students are going to slow them down. I'd just do your best and show them that they can trust you. One particular nurse was sort of frosty, though, and midway through the day I just asked her "Have I done something that has upset or angered you? The reason I ask is because I get the feeling you're frustrated with me." She was very polite after that, so I don't think she was even aware that she was acting that way.

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klone has 13 years experience as a MSN, RN and specializes in Women's Health/OB Leadership.

3 Followers; 114,251 Visitors; 13,219 Posts

Why do many nurses dislike students:

Students create more work for them. Many times, a task it would take them 5 minutes to do alone, will usually take 10 minutes or longer with a student. Many nurses do not enjoy teaching, and are not good at it.

I personally enjoy having students (generally speaking, I've had a few doozies - I actually had a student say "No thanks, I've had enough practice" when I asked if she wanted to start my pt's IV) because I enjoy teaching. But I would say that I'm probably in the minority; most nurses just want to go to work and do their jobs.

Just keep doing what you're doing. You're probably not going to change their minds. It will be a good lesson for when you're an experienced nurse and you're asked (or told) to precept someone else.

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3,394 Visitors; 109 Posts

do i look funny?

Not sure, post a picture and we'll let you know.

Seriously though, you may or may not be doing anything wrong. Even if you are, they for sure are doing something wrong. Continue trying your best, staying positive, taking advantage of any opportunity you can, and sometimes you do need to be proactive to get an opportunity, especially in a critical care setting (as lots of personalities will be more self directed, self motivated types).

But also remember a couple of things: 1) the pts are those nurses' primary responsibility, 2) (the way I feel and count it) a wet-behind-the-ears nurse adds AT BEST 50% to the workload, usually it doubles it if you're teaching someone well. Think of all the things that the nurse needs to accomplish, how much can you do? Not much (yet). How much can you do with minimal supervision? How much can you actually do independently? Especially in an ICU setting, even simple care tasks can have potential downfalls. Bathing the person: oops, accidentily knocked out the A-line. Get the idea, so in addition to watching the pts, they're watching you. Get the idea why some aren't up on the idea of a student? Now my advice to you is this, next time you get one of those 30% charges who smile and seem helpful, ask them which floor nurses enjoy having students (they're out there) and asked to be paired with them. Stay humble, you may be smart, but when you look back after even 6mo of actual work, you'll realize how little you know.

And my final piece of advice: Remember. Remember these days so when you are that floor nurse and the bright eyed, bushy tailed SN comes up to you, you'll be the floor nurse you wish you were paired up with. This coming from a guy that loves working with newbies (and not just so I can recycle my old jokes).

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MisterSimba specializes in New Grad.

7,935 Visitors; 292 Posts

I think the problem is that nurses aren't given the choice to have a student with them for the day, so some of the nurses that don't want to work with students take their misery out on them. In an ideal world, only nurses that enjoy teaching would be assigned a nursing student, but unfortunately there are too many nursing students. I graduated in July and most of the nurses I worked with were great, but I had a few that definitely didn't seem to want me around. My advice for working with nurses that don't seem to care for students: don't take it personally, kill them with kindness, and ask your clinical instructor for help with your patient if needed. A good clinical instructor is worth their weight in gold!

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BSNBritt has 5 years experience and specializes in Nonviolent physical intervention.

1,646 Visitors; 24 Posts

That happened to me a lot in school too. This probably isn't the best advice, but there's really no way to control what other people say/do. All you can do is be your best, and not reflect that attitudes of others. Keep your chin up, and remember how this felt when you're an RN and have a student

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3,404 Visitors; 178 Posts

This is actually an issue you should be approaching your instructor or Nursing School with. It could be a communication issue with the UM, and the staff. It could be an issue that the Nursing Staff does not fully understand what you can do.

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892 Visitors; 3 Posts

Nature of the beast I say. I have said in class and clinical many times that the worst part of my day as a nursing student is being assigned to a nurse in the morning. They see me walk on the unit and the RN's all scatter away. I have received the very same "warm" welcomes you have. I was with the clinical manager one morning and we found a nurse and she said "You have a student, ok?" Her response was, "If he can keep up" and she dissappeared. Pretty great. The eye rolls, cold shoulder, bargaining to not have a student...part of the game. I will say though, that my rotation through OB and PEDS has been extraordinary. Not one nurse in L&D, Post partum, or antepartum was cold. There were all happy and helpful. Same goes for the PEDS. The nurse in the PICU was great, and the NICU was even better. The NICU nurse even said "Im happy to have a student to have some help." I think these nurses rather enjoy their jobs, while others not as much.

I'm going to remember how I felt being assigned to a nurse in the morning when I am a nurse and make sure no students I have ever feel that way. You should do the same.

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mlclove has 1 years experience and specializes in Sub-acute, Rehab.

2,885 Visitors; 69 Posts

I've had this happen to me quite often at clinicals. Just keep doing your best, it's really nice when you change these nurse's opinion of students. That said, it's not always going to happen. We had just gotten a new site for our school and this place was not happy we were under their feet. Then we had a patient go crazy and my nurse I was assigned to was so frazzled. I helped her as much as I was able. By the end of that day, those nurses were very happy we were there to help things get calmed down and do any extra thing that needed to be done. So just keep being yourself and doing your best. The only thing that gets through is a job well done. Good luck!

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llg has 40 years experience as a PhD, RN and specializes in Nursing Professional Development.

5 Followers; 58,138 Visitors; 13,064 Posts

I used to think it was just me (do i look funny? am i not polite??) but then I hear ALL my classmates saying the same things. I DON'T GET IT!! What am I doing wrong?? Or what can I do/say to let nurses know that I actually care and am capable of doing things?

For the record, I KNOW that I'm smart and competent and have had nurses that talk about how helpful and knowledgeable I am. Not trying to toot my own horn, I'm just trying to tell you guys where I'm coming from. Sorry for the rant and I'm hoping I can get some suggestions on what to say/do :)

Re-read your own words. You USED to think it was just you, but now you realize that all students have this problem. Then you wonder what you are doing wrong. That is inconsistent thinking ... and that leads you down a bad path. While part of you sees the evidence that you are not the cause of the staff nurses' reaction to you ... you are so focused on your desires that you go back to thinking that you must be doing something wrong. In reality, it's not about you. You're probably not doing anything wrong.

What it is about is the fact that you pay the school to provide you an education. Then the over-worked and over-stressed staff nurse is expected to do the teaching for no reward even though she/he may have no training in how to teach and may have no interest in teaching. That staff nurse may be struggling to get through the shift and the last thing he/she wants is the added burden of having to teach a stranger over which she has little control. It's a bad set-up to begin with.

As you have found, some people enjoy working with students. Some do not. In many cases, there is nothing you can do to change that.

One tip I can give you. The more stressed out an experienced nurse is, the more they will be irritated by a student with a hyper "eager puppy" approach to the situation. A stressed-out nurse appreciates calm, quiet, and a no-nonsense student who can be helpful without sapping them of their energy. Look for little, unobtrusive ways to be of assistance that will earn their trust and respect. Leave the high energy, intense "eager puppy" behaviors at the door. You'll usually get better results in the long run as the nurse thinks, "Gee, this student is not so bad. She's actually helpful without being irritating and/or getting in the way. Maybe I should give her a few extra minutes of my time and see if I can help her a bit with her learning needs."

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1 Article; 5,012 Visitors; 172 Posts

I have 9 students on my unit 4 days a week and frankly, it gets OLD. I want students who are eager, know their meds, and ask me good questions. I want students who take their vitals, bathe their patients, walk their patients, and ask me what else they can do. I get really tired of students who don't chart vitals, ask us if we can give the bath, and don't seem interested in learning but want to complain. Still though, I try to grab a student whenever I have any kind of procedure that is rare for them to see (NG, foley, placement etc). I really try to be nice, but if you're in my way and not helping, I might not be the nicest.

Oh, and I agree about the eager puppy thing. I had a patient fire a student for being too cheery and loud yesterday! It was 7am, the patient was only a few hours post op, in pain, and needed a quiet, gentle touch.

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dudette10 has 14 years experience as a MSN, RN.

1 Article; 25,762 Visitors; 3,529 Posts

I think we have to earn the trust of the nurses that we are competent within our limited capabilities, which isn't a bad thing. I've been very lucky to be with extremely smart and capable clinical groups, and I've noticed something. The first couple of weeks, the nurses are checking us out. At about the third or fourth week, they give us more to do we've lived up to their expectations. Yesterday, our clinical instructor proudly informed us that she overheard the nurse manager talking to the nurses about being very short-staffed for nurses and support people. (We saw the scrambling in report for patient assignments, and I was feeling very sorry for the nurses...it was awful.) When the nurse manager couldn't get anyone to come in, she apologized to her staff, but one of the nurses said, "We'll make do; we have students today!"

We didn't do "nursey" stuff, but we ran errands, ran activities, just generally helped the nurses and support staff take fewer steps to get their jobs done. During post-conference, we were all tired, but very happy that the nurses felt we had helped them in some way.

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