Inasmuch as you would probably want to do away with having to spend shift after shift working closely with doctors, nurses, and ancillary personnel in the hospital, you must admit that clinical rotations are part and parcel of your life as a nursing student. To put it bluntly, if you want to have a fruitful nursing career after graduation and passing the nursing board examinations, then you should start taking clinicals seriously.
And so to help you and the rest of our readers with very stressful clinicals, here are few tips that will help you to think and perform like a professional nurse does. Here goes:
- Think of clinical rotations as learning experiences. Come to think of it, clinicals were not included in your nursing curriculum with the intention to punish you. The main purpose of clinical rotations is to provide you with the necessary exposure and training to prepare you for your career in nursing.
- Profile your clinical instructors. One way to get ahead during clinicals is to know your clinical instructors. I remember vividly this experience I had with a clinical instructor. I was kind of apprehensive since she had this reputation of being a terror on the floor. And so I asked a classmate what were the exact things that the instructor expected of student nurses. I was told that the instructor wanted the work area spic and span and that she hated seeing nursing students idle and chatting with other students. Equipped with this vital piece of information, I had renewed confidence and actually performed well that week.
- Double-check your schedule and be punctual. This is pretty self-explanatory. You don't want to be late for clinicals. Tardiness will be the start of a very long and stressful week. Aside from the inevitable demerits, it will surely affect your overall performance. Also, make sure to check the schedule and area of assignment for each and every clinical rotation that you have. Some student nurses often check the bulletin board haphazardly at the last minute and so end up copying the wrong thing. I actually know somebody who was 12 hours early on his first day of clinical rotations. Boy, was he embarassed!
- Prepare your uniform and paraphernalia ahead of time. Preparing the things that you need to bring ahead of time will actually help you avoid anxiety-inducing situations. Student nurses have to remember that the ability to be prepared, stay organized, and plan ahead of time are very desirable qualities of an efficient nurse.
- Know the nursing concept at hand and if possible, read on it in advance. The goal here is not be your group's mister -or miss-know-it-all. You just have to read on what is necessary. Say, for example, if that week's concept is on oxygenation, then at least read on the basics of oxygenation. It will also help if you have those little notebooks or pocketguides with all the laboratory values and bits of information you will need while on duty.
- Learn to prioritize and manage your time. The ability of student nurses to prioritize things is the key to performing well during clinical rotations. If, for example, you are assigned to a patient fresh out of the recovery room, make sure that you have performed the necessary assessment and procedures before you start worrying about your patient's linens or the nursing assessment tool or whatever forms you have to submit to your instructor at the end your shift. Remember, safety comes first.
- Be courteous. Be polite to patients, your clinical instructors, nursing staff, and your groupmates. Maintaining a good working environment during clinicals will give you that extra motivation to perform well and achieve learning goals.
- Ask for guidance. Nursing students must remember that during clinical rotations, they are under the supervision of their clinical instructor --a licensed nurse. So when in doubt, you should ask your clinical instructors or the nurses in the unit for guidance and instructions. Never mind if they breathe down your neck or be downright condescending. Just remember that patience is a virtue and as I always say, it is better to be safe than sorry.
- Take your requirements seriously. During clinical rotations, nursing students are also graded basing on the quality of the written requirements they submit to their instructors. One way of earning a few more points in your favor is to submit neat and well-constructed paperwork such as nursing assessment tools, nursing care plans, drug studies, and journal readings. By neat, try submitting your requirements using templates bearing your name, your school's name, your clinical instructor's complete name, and other data required by your instructor. Believe me, neat and well-made requirements will definitely help pull your grades up.
- Lastly, be attentive during ward class. Post-duty conferences or ward classes are designed to enhance new learnings acquired on the floor. It is every nursing student's opportunity to ask questions and make clarifications on procedures or the concept at hand.