What to expect during clinicals


Hello everyone!

My first semester of nursing classes/clinicals starts January 18th. What should I expect? What topics/skills are usually covered during the first semester?


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Specializes in Gerontological, cardiac, med-surg, peds. Has 16 years experience.

this is by no means an exhaustive list, but fairly typical of many nursing programs:

1. vital signs, pulse oximetry, and pain assessment

2. head to toe assessment

3. nursing process/ formulating plans of care

4. medication administration

5. food and fluid intake

6. legal/ethical guidelines in the use of information technology & beginning principles of documentation

7. standard and transmission-based isolation precautions

8. restraints

9. factors affecting bowel and bladder function

10. basic laboratory interpretation

11. specimen collection

12. pressure ulcer prevention

13. wound care

14. pulmonary hygiene

15. relaxation and comfort measures

16. orthopedic care

best wishes to you! :)

What skills will you learn during first semester? During my first semester we learned all the nursing skills, so we did everything during our first clinical. We could start IVs, give injections, put in NG tubes and catheters, manage IV drips and medications, empty JP drains, chest tubes, hemovacs, foleys, wound vacs, etc. A lot of what you do will also depend on what type of unit you are on. We were in a hospital on a floor that did post-surgical, ICU step-down, and medical overflow. About 95 percent of our patients were surgeries, with the other 5 percent being ICU step-down and medical patients that the other floors couldn't hold. I've had everything from hypoxic respiratory failure to pancreatic cancer to appendectomy to hernia repair to chest trauma.

No matter what skills you learn, you will be doing head to toe assessments, vital signs, baths, morning care, and ambulation of your patients. You will also assist them in eating meals (if they need help), turn them in bed, etc. You will probably listen to the change of shift report, and you may even give your own mini-report before you leave. Since we take over all the care for at least two patients, and sometimes three to four, we have to give the report to the oncoming nurses. We do everything for the patients we have. This means that we give baths, give all medications, insert all IVs, NGs, and foleys, empty all surgical drains, take vitals, turn patients, position them in bed, assist them with ambulation, monitor I&O and laboratory data, prepare patients for tests throughout the day (such as x-ray or CT), etc. I love clinical, and I learn a ton during each day. It can be stressful until you learn how to manage your day, but I have another post with a suggested clinical schedule if you are going to be doing twelve hour days. Good luck, and have fun!


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In my first semester we pretty much did everything VickyRN said. We didn't have actual clinicals just simulation lab so we learned IV's, NG tubes, and all that other stuff second semester when we started clinical.