What does a nursing student wan to learn most?


Hi everyone. I am a CICU RN who may be taking on a nursing student this fall for several shifts and I wanted to ask your advice on what a nursing student might really want to learn most. I plan to meet with the student before our first shift (or maybe just touch base by phone or email) to get an idea of his/her level of knowledge/experience, areas of interest etc. There is just so much to cover and I would like to approach it in a meaningful manner as well as be able to provide good care and timely documentation during my shift. My problem is I LOVE to teach and could just spend the whole shift teaching, but realize I will need to balance giving care/assisting student in giving care/documenting/teaching etc. What things did you find most useful during clinicals? What do you wish you had been taught/shown/experienced? What did you find a waste of time? Any ideas or suggestions?

Thanks in advance.



699 Posts

Specializes in OB.

well, I am a student who wants to know everything and do everything, so if you spent the entire time teaching, I would be a happy happy girl!! I was fortunate enough to have my first year of clinicals at a Magnet hospital, and all of the nurses were amazing. I think that the things that stuck with me the most was the nurses who explained, and then let me try, with out sticking their hands into it to (Unless of course I was on the verge of disaster) because of their confidence in me, I became confident and not so nervous.

I also appreciated working with a primary who did things quickly and efficiently, so that I could see how it should be done ie:charting and discharge.


1,569 Posts

Specializes in LDRP.

Wow, I am so glad you are excited and care about this enough to ask! ;)

That said, I would probably want to start off mastering the basics. Helping her develop skills in the right way will really benefit her--from starting IV's to managing her time wisely!

I like to observe all procedures, then try my hand at it in clinical--most people learn well by seeing it then doing it. Definitely show her how you keep up with charting, and how you organize your time. Juggling more than one patient (haha) scares the poo out of me--so how do you do that on such a heavy floor?

Definitely take a minute and find out what the student wants to know--they may have had a lot of experience or are super-green and a little shy of everything!

Just the fact that you love to teach and want to help this person is so wonderful--I am soooooooooooo stinkin' jealous and wish I could work with you! God bless ya! ;)

Specializes in RN, Cardiac Step Down/Tele Unit.

The best nurse I had in clinicals really challenged me - she asked questions about meds and if I didn't know offhand, that was fine, but I better look it up! She had a method also where she would ask you a question, you'd give your speal, then at the end she would say "Is that all?" and you would have to stop and really think if you were forgetting something. Most of the time you weren't, but she wanted you to be SURE you had caught everything!

On behalf of your future student, thank you for caring so much to worry about this!


171 Posts

1) Time management skills (yep, definitely first on the list).

2) Strategies for dealing with demanding patients/families.

3) Heads-up on the individual docs and their preferences - who likes to be called when and for what?


47 Posts

Has 6 years experience.

Thanks everyone for the great input.!

Allthingsbright and mooongirl thanks for the comments on liking to have someone who teaches- I liked that too when I was a student. Nothing worse than following someone who gives you the impression that all you are doing is slowing them down!

GratefulHeart - thanks for the ideas on doc's preferences and dealing with demanding folks (I actually like the difficult pts and families. I find USUALLY all it takes is being real sweet, giving them time/info/compassion and you get them on "your side").

Another thing I learned quickly (unfortunately by experience) was to have the doc's pager number on my report sheet so I could reach them in an instant - needed it one time when a sheath pull went bad and it took me more than a few minutes to contact the MD : ( Fortunately the pt was OK.

I am hoping there will be a code too (of course I hope the pt makes it!!). That way we can go to that. Since the code pts come to our unit we can go over what happens after a successful code. TIP - look up the pt's lab values and know them as it will make a difference on the poc! Also, if your pt codes, make sure you write down everything done/given (we have white boards in the room and I just scribble it there. Make sure the dr writes orders for everything that was given before s/he leaves!

I agree on the time management thing - definitely something you need. Also, I was planning on letting her/him do a complete assessment and then go through together and document it together.

I have already printed off some online resources and some in house ones too (protocols, assessment standards etc). Since I am on a cardiac unit I plan to go over ECGs and ABGs as I think most students can use a little more on that. I was also thinking of going over the vent and getting the RT to give tips. I am at a teaching hospital and love to participate in rounds so I will include him/her in that.

Keep them ideas flowing!!

Terri in Greenville, NC

PS fleur-de-lis - where in North Texas are you? I went to !


33 Posts

Has 4 years experience.

I may be a little late in responding to this, but it may still apply... I am a first-semester nursing student in an accelerated BSN program and one of the things that I've found most helpful in clinical is when our clinical instructor tries to tie together everything that we're doing--using our knowledge of normal A&P, patho, pharm, assessment, and the nursing process. This gives a lot of meaning to the skills that we're learning alongside. My instructor really emphasizes critical thinking skills and knowing your s*** in terms of A&P and patho, and I really think I'm getting a lot more out of our fundamentals clinical this semester than kids in some of the other groups who are stuck doing bedbaths and peri-care week after week. It's important to learn and master those skills, too, but critical thinking is SO important and takes the longest and most amount of effort to learn, so it's really nice to get applicable reinforcement of those concepts in the clinical setting.

Just my $0.02. Hope your semester goes well!

WDWpixieRN, RN

2,237 Posts

Specializes in Med/Surg <1; Epic Certified <1.
I agree on the time management thing - definitely something you need. Also, I was planning on letting her/him do a complete assessment and then go through together and document it together.

This is a great idea! I think the hardest part of NS for me is not feeling confident in much of anything I am doing while in clinicals. I feel we were kind of thrown to the wolves our first semester without seeing what a "real nurse" does on the job. The first time I accidentally was in a room while the nurse was doing an assessment, I was just blown away by the ease she was doing it. It was so natural and I was so impressed with how comfortable she seemed while doing it. I still sweat bullets to this day (3rd semester).

I did an internship this summer and it was so great that my RN loved teaching and was so relaxed and good at it. She wasn't a screamer or short-tempered, so that helped ME relax. It was nice having review of many things we had learned in school, but maybe hadn't had a chance to do in clinicals yet.

The one thing I DO hate however, is when I haven't done a skill yet, and they would say, "Go ahead and try it", when maybe I hadn't even seen it in months. I much prefer to observe a time or two, then give it a go. And when there is weeks in between that "time or two", I am always petrified that I won't remember everything.

It sounds like you're thoughtful and enjoy teaching, so I bet you do a great job!! Best wishes!!

HeartsOpenWide, RN

2 Articles; 2,889 Posts

Specializes in Ante-Intra-Postpartum, Post Gyne.

Well for ME; I am in a BSN program so we read a lot of stuff from books; when I am in the hospital I do not want a lecture, I have heard it already, I want to learn things hands on; not just how to do it, but tips and tricks of the trade from experts like you. There are so many times that I have had a nurse tell me, "well your book probably tells you to do it this way, but I find it easier and more efficient to do it this way." If I hear that from enough nurses I have many ways to skin a cat under my hat...

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