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What Do I NEED to Know Before Clinicals?

Students   (1,751 Views | 8 Replies)
by Casha9 Casha9 (New) New

687 Profile Views; 13 Posts

Today I was in class, waiting for my exam results, and one of my instructors was going over patient workups and lab sheets etc. that we would be doing in clinicals. It terrified me. She was asking questions about normal wbc counts and using nursing diagnosis, and general lab questions. I know this is my (soon to be) profession, but I don't even know where to begin. I have no healthcare experience, and am basically starting from the drawing board. Does anyone have any advice, or specific things to share before I enter into a clinical setting.. With live human beings..

All input is appreciated!

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RunBabyRN has 2 years experience and specializes in L&D, infusion, urology.

3,677 Posts; 27,053 Profile Views

Breathe! It's TOTALLY NORMAL to freak out at this stage. Cut yourself a break- you will not be expected to know everything. However, the answer is NEVER, "I don't know," unless it is followed by, "Let me find out and get back to you." Then follow through. Know your resources, and ASK ASK ASK if you can't find it anywhere else. Ask where to find stuff. Don't just ask for answers- ask for resources.

Know what you can and cannot do, and COMMUNICATE this with your nurse (see the post in this forum from music in my heart). Take opportunities where they come, don't be afraid to get your hands dirty (literally and figuratively; but if literally, please wear gloves :) ) and above all, safety, safety, safety. Safety for you, the nurse, the school, the patient.

It sounds like you're in your first semester, jumping into your first clinical experience. Be patient with yourself. Listen to your patients. They are the experts, and sometimes they know more about their disease processes than the nurses do (it's true!). As a student, you have the luxury of time- time to sit down with a patient and really delve deep. People love to talk about themselves and to feel heard, and sometimes, this is the best gift you can give a patient. Now as a SNF nurse, I know I have patients that I wish I could do this with. They surely would benefit. (SNF= nursing home- you'll hear this term "sniff" a lot in the hospital)

Also, write down EVERYTHING. Develop this habit now. You'll get the organizational stuff down with time as you learn what works for you, but you'll want all that info that you're sure you'll remember.

Good luck! :) Enjoy it!!

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kalycat has 5 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in CVICU CCRN.

1 Article; 553 Posts; 14,684 Profile Views

Everything RunBabyRN said.... And my own personal golden rule....

If it's wet and it's not yours, wear gloves. 😃

Seriously, don't be afraid to dig in and have fun. My first day of clinical was my best day of nursing school. Suddenly things were coming together for me in big ways. Good luck!!

Sent from my iPhone using allnurses

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197 Posts; 3,361 Profile Views

Ask questions. It's better to ask and look silly then to try and do something and harm a pt. You are there to learn.

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17 Posts; 1,950 Profile Views

As RunBabyRN said - Breathe! I'm only in my second semester and understand what you're feeling. Resources - get a good Lab and Diagnostics with Nursing implications book. Learning the ranges of lab values in not difficult but what they may signify can be more complicated. Sometimes having no healthcare experience is an advantage; you have no habits, good, bad, or indifferent, to unlearn. I'm a CMA and wasted a day at clinical by falling into my "comfort zone." I realized what I had done at 3:30 am and I will not allow it to happen this week!

As far as knowledge, you will gain it. There are those that have it, those that don't and search for it, and those that don't and bluff their way through. Beware of this last group as they can be dangerous. Your assignments may take a little longer to complete but the amount of knowledge you will acquire in just a few short weeks will be significant.

It's OK to doubt yourself but don't give up. I hope nobody lied to you and said nursing school was easy. It's not. You know you can do this!

I hope that wasn't too preachy. Best wishes!

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rob4546 has 6 years experience as a ADN, BSN and specializes in ICU.

1,005 Posts; 7,434 Profile Views

If it's wet and it's not yours, wear gloves. 

Okay this was funny. Will have to remember this and use it over, and over, and over, and over....

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Wave Watcher has 7 years experience and specializes in Community Health/School Nursing.

751 Posts; 8,228 Profile Views

You need to know who you are and why you wanted to be a nurse. Write it down....stick on your bathroom mirror. Every day before clinicals...read it....believe in yourself......you're gonna need it. :-) Good luck! You will do great!

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19 Posts; 477 Profile Views

Just don't kill anyone... And if you hurt someone say sorry... Don't forget to introduce yourself and smile

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23 Posts; 1,412 Profile Views

Like someone above said - ask questions! And show initiative. Don't stand around waiting to get "invited" by the nurse, respiratory therapist, etc. to observe a procedure . No harm in asking "Is it okay if I come observe?". The worst they can say is no! But by asking I learned a lot and had anesthesiologists walking me through the epidural process and open heart surgery, respiratory therapists teaching me about tracheostomies, nurses showing me some crazy wounds and how to debride them, etc... We had several people in clinical who always complained that they "never got to see anything". Just ask politely and without being obnoxious!

Good luck with clinicals!

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