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The mental and social skills needed

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by microtutor microtutor (New Member) New Member

microtutor has 3 years experience and works as a RN.

3,033 Visitors; 52 Posts

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Hi,

I am new to being a nursing student, and I start in September. I have finished all my pre-reqs and I am a good student, on paper. I want to be a good student on my feet, too.

It seems to me there are mental and social skills needed to succeed here. It isn't just about getting good grades, or memorizing stuff, or knowing how to do dosage calculations.

Do any experienced nurses and/or nursing students have advice on the mental and social skills needed to do well in nursing school? I hear stories so often of people who were pigeon-holed as "full of themselves" when all they meant to do was ask questions, work hard and do well. What is the best way to do well AND be well-liked?

It also seems there are so many situations that can bring a person to a dark place, mentally. Does anyone have any tips on how they stay positive??

Many thanks!! :heartbeat

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CBsMommy works as a Registered Nurse.

9,671 Visitors; 825 Posts

Congrats on starting in your program! Let's start off with, who are you trying to impress? Dealing with different groups of people all have different social skills that have to come into play.

Personally, I think it's all about respect.

I respect all of my instructors. Do I think some are better than others? Sure. But I still respect them all, which means that I do not talk about them behind their backs to other students or instructors (believe me, this did bite some people in the butt in my program). I actively listen and participate in their lectures and I ask their advice when the situation warrants it. I have learned to argue effectively, which includes not whining (especially about a test grade) but learning to approach them with a respectful and professional attitude.

For my Clinical Instructors...this is a little different because they each have their own personality but it still boils down to respect. I don't talk about them behind their backs to other students, faculty or the nursing staff on the floor. I ask them for advice when the situation warrants it, etc.

For the Nurses on the Floor where you do your clinicals....I really try to stay out of their way. Remember that you are a guest in their hospital, on their floor. I don't sit in the chairs at the nurse's station, I don't stand around talking to other students in the hall, I don't text during my clinical shift (this is a big pet peeve). I try to do extra things to help them out, like empty their trash cans if they start to get really full and help the techs answer call lights. I answer beeping IVs, I restock linens, etc. I've never really had a problem with any of the staff nurses on the floor.

For fellow students...I'm just nice. A little more relaxed around my peers. I help where I can. Have I been told that I'm a know-it-all? Sure. Are there peers in my program that don't like me? Sure. Is it going to matter in another year when I'm done? Nope. I won't be working with those people again. And, really, it's their perspective of me...their snap judgement...not really who I am.

As for being positive...I don't get involved in the negative talk with my peers. I let them blow off steam but I don't participate (I do blow off steam here at AllNurses though). I remember that this is what I choose to do with my life. It seems to make it a bit easier to keep pushing myself to study. I keep my interests outside of nursing school. I spend a lot of time with my family. If you keep this in perspective (this is just one aspect of your life that doesn't define who you are), it's a lot easier to stay positive!

Is this what you are looking for?

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microtutor has 3 years experience and works as a RN.

3,033 Visitors; 52 Posts

Yes! Thank you so much for your perspective!

I'm not really trying to impress anyone, just looking for some tips on the perspective of others - particularly instructors and preceptors - so I can show some empathy.

Nursing will be my second career, so I know well from my career in business not to talk about anyone behind their back - it sort of amazes me that some people would do that, but I guess there are always some who can be a bit immature.

Your advice on how to help the floor nurses and how to avoid negative talk are going to be invaluable!!!!

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metal_m0nk works as a Registered Nurse.

13,330 Visitors; 920 Posts

Doing well and being well liked by all or even most of your classmates will likely be difficult for a lot of reasons. Strive to do well and be respected instead. Doesn't matter whether or not they "like" you. But if they hate your guts and still can't say an unkind word about you, you're on the right track.

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CBsMommy works as a Registered Nurse.

9,671 Visitors; 825 Posts

Oh good. I'm glad I could help!

I tend to speak with instructors and perceptors as if they are my boss. I do really look up to them, they have so much more experience in healthcare than I do and they are a wealth of knowledge! And, always keep in mind that they are the people that are going to be writing your letters of recommendation for your future jobs as a nurse!!! And, believe me, they have a lot more pull with the hospitals than we give them credit for!!!

Sometimes you will have to let the floor nurses warm up to you. In our hospitals, they have to put up with students morning, noon and night, 7 days a week and as students, we can really be a burden! Doing small things like emptying their trash can when needed (like I mentioned above) or taking care of a really needy patient so they can focus on their other patients, can really help them a lot! In fact, I've done more foleys and more IVs than most of the students in my class because of the floor nurses! If you help them, they are more likely to help you!

You will do fine! Good luck!!!

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14,798 Visitors; 2,642 Posts

Yes! Thank you so much for your perspective!

I'm not really trying to impress anyone, just looking for some tips on the perspective of others - particularly instructors and preceptors - so I can show some empathy.

Nursing will be my second career, so I know well from my career in business not to talk about anyone behind their back - it sort of amazes me that some people would do that, but I guess there are always some who can be a bit immature.

Your advice on how to help the floor nurses and how to avoid negative talk are going to be invaluable!!!!

If you want to show empathy, be empathetic....that one isn't tough. Put yourself in the patient's shoes and see if there are little things you could do to help them feel better. Some times, that's not "doing" anything, but merely listening them.

In many ways clinical instructors and preceptors are looking for the same things from you in clinicals. They're looking for you to be prepared, and be self-directed within your scope of practice (which will likely change term to term). So, don't wait to be told what to do, or to have your hand held (which doesn't mean to go off and do things out of your scope by yourself...but more to do what you're supposed to do without prompting). Also remember that one of your jobs is to learn how to be a good team member. This means helping fellow students, or nurses/CNA's on the floor as you can.

I agree with an above poster....it boils down to respect. If you respect those around you, including respecting their time....you'll be fine.

I wouldn't worry about shooting to be "well-liked" that's just not the point of nursing school.

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3,231 Visitors; 144 Posts

I'm nearly finished with the first year of my program and I begin the second year (RN year) this June. I've managed to be pretty well liked and my instructor has told me than I'm smart and wonderful to have in her clinical group - not bragging, just giving you my credentials so to speak! :rolleyes:

Anyway, first and foremost - BE YOURSELF. Yup, sounds cliche and cheesy but it's true. People can tell when you're trying too hard or being fake. Don't push yourself to like everyone - be civil, but that doesn't mean you should try to become friends with someone who rubs you the wrong way.

Don't act like you know everything - that's probably the worst thing you can do. Just because you have family members that are nurses, or you work or worked as a CNA/CMA, or you used to be a pharmacy tech - whatever your knowledge level is, you don't know everything and pretending that you do will irritate people to no end. I'm not saying you are a know-it-all, but you'd be surprised what NS can do to a person. People who are normally laid back will become high strung, people who are sweet and pleasant may have periods of irritation and aggression - stress does strange things. Learning to realize that you don't know everything will help in the real-world too because there will be times when you may have to ask other nurses what their opinions or experiences are.

Only give your opinions when asked. This kind of goes a long with the first one. Especially if you don't have any experience in the area. During our Maternity/Baby/Childbirth lectures, one young woman kept expressing her beliefs and opinions when she didn't have any children of her own, no brothers/sisters/nieces/nephews, and no cousins. It was obvious that she had no clue what she was talking about and when she'd argue with those of us (including the instructor) who had some experience, it made her look ignorant.

Under no circumstances do you correct a staff nurse while at a clinical site - unless she is doing something that would KILL the patient, which is unlikely. If you witness something you think is odd, strange, or wrong - talk to your instructor about it. And definitely don't correct or argue with the nurse in front of her patients or coworkers! It's just a BAD idea and you'll have at least one enemy - maybe more if she complains about you to her coworkers or gets your school kicked out of that site. Chances are, facility policy may be different than what you learned in school. Procedures are also modified and changed for the real world as well and may not be incorrect, just different.

Do your homework before clinicals - don't show up to clinical not knowing anything about your patient's diseases, medications, or procedures. It makes you look stupid and like you don't care. And research every aspect - if your patient is getting an IM injection, don't just research the medication being injected - research the sites and which site in particular this med is given.

And previous posters were right - respect is the most important. Everything boils down to respect. Don't do your homework? You're not respecting yourself, your school, or your instructor by not trying your hardest to succeed. Don't follow procedure, protocol, and policy? You're not respecting yourself, your instructor, or your clinical site.

And who cares if you're labeled "full of yourself" if you're just trying to learn and being proactive and involved in your education? No offense to anyone, but to me labels are kind of "high school". Yeah, adults do label people but it's still immature. Anyone who would label you as "full of yourself" when you're just trying to learn is probably jealous of how well you're doing. It's better than being labeled "the annoying snob who thinks she knows it all but doesn't know ANYTHING" - there are a lot of those and they're usually the ones who label everyone else because they have no idea what they're doing but try to cover it up.

Good luck and congratulations!

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microtutor has 3 years experience and works as a RN.

3,033 Visitors; 52 Posts

Thanks, all for your thoughtful advice! I think it will become more intuitive what to do once I get to the floor...right now I am just a bundle of nerves, thinking about the future! :eek:

I plan to take some other thread posters' advice and take a vacation before I start, as well as review my coursework.

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