Learning takes place in nursing school, which not only comprises classroom instruction but also hands-on practice in the clinical setting. Clinicals is the term used to describe the experience of working in a clinical setting. Many nursing students begin their studies with little knowledge on what to expect throughout their practical experiences. This is because many of the students have never worked in a hospital before, or they may have worked in a hospital but not in a role that was directly related to patient care previously.

To be successful in nursing school, one must be able to do well not just in the theory component of the program, but also in the clinical portion. Here are my top five recommendations for acing nursing school clinicals:

1. Be Well-Informed

It is the most important and finest piece of advice that anyone can provide to a nursing student: be prepared for clinical experiences. When I say "be prepared," I'm referring to more than one aspect of your situation.

A. The night before, make sure you have all of your materials and uniform ready.

This includes, but is not limited to, the following items: a stethoscope, a penlight, scissors, a notebook, pens, a sharpie, a watch with a second hand, and a pocket drug guide or a drug guide application for your smartphone. In addition, it is essential to put out these materials the night before clinicals so that you are more likely to remember what you need to bring with you. Additionally, set out your uniform in its entirety the night before.

B. Be prepared to answer questions from your instructor.

Being prepared for drug passes and teacher inquiries during clinicals is the most stressful aspect of the experience. Doing your research and studying ahead of time will help you be more prepared for these circumstances. Many professors may give you your homework the night before clinicals, so make sure to read up on the diagnosis of your patients as well as the symptoms that go along with those diagnoses before going into the clinic. You'll also want to search up any drugs that this individual may be taking, as well as any medications that your teacher has told you that you are accountable for passing the next day's exam.

If your instructor does not provide you with your homework the night before, begin researching broad drug categories and illness processes following your schoolwork and previous experiences. In other words, diagnoses: Diabetes, heart disease, endocrine problems, and other diseases are all covered. For example, medications such as heart medications, insulin, thyroid medications, pain medications, and so on.

2. Be humble

One thing to remember about clinicals in nursing school is that it is vital to have a feeling of humility about oneself. Students with an arrogant attitude will be turned off by many nurses in the clinical setting, while on the other hand, students who show humility and want to learn will find more nurses and staff who are willing to educate and mentor them.

Be modest and recognize that you do not know everything...and communicate this to your preceptors and other members of the clinical team with whom you come into contact in the clinical setting. At the same time, don't let your guard down. Do not allow anyone to treat you unfairly or with disdain simply because you are a student, and this includes your teachers. You should walk away if you believe someone is being overtly disrespectful of you and look for a new preceptor or someone else who is ready to educate or assist you.

3. Be Eager to Learn and Demonstrate It!

Another issue that many nursing students encounter in the practical setting is the lack of someone genuinely interested in teaching them. Because many of the nurses have had negative experiences with students who are lethargic or who demonstrate a lack of willingness to learn in the clinical setting, they are discouraged from wanting to teach other students in the future.

Be enthusiastic about learning in both the classroom and the clinical setting, and learn how to demonstrate this enthusiasm! Request a replacement preceptor for the day from your instructor if you come across a nurse who is uninterested in teaching you or who is being rude. This demonstrates that you are interested in learning and that you want to be with someone ready to share their knowledge. If you are unable to swap preceptors for the day, do everything you can to assist the nurse and demonstrate to her/him that you are not only there to assist but also to learn from her/him.

4. Make the most of every opportunity

You will learn more through hands-on experience than you would from listening to or watching lectures in class, so take advantage of every opportunity to learn in the clinical setting! This implies that if your nurse for the day asks you if you want to try out a new skill, you should answer yes! 

Even if is what one you are unfamiliar with or haven't attempted on a live person before, try it. You can usually count on the nurse to be right alongside you to walk you through the procedure, or you can always ask your instructor to assist you through the process. 

One last piece of advice is to answer yes when a nurse or doctor asks if you'd like to watch an operation or skill of some sort being performed. Take advantage of all opportunities that are presented to you in the clinical context. You will get more knowledge at the hospital than you will gain from reading a book...

5. Don't Be Afraid to Put Your Questions Forward.

For a variety of reasons, nursing students might become stuck in a rut where they don't ask questions. They are either frightened to ask inquiries or don't know how to ask questions in a therapeutic environment for one of two reasons. Don't be scared to ask questions when you're conducting your clinicals. Isn't it true that it's better to ask than to make a mistake? Some things, however, you will have to learn on your own, such as where specific supplies are stored, how to effectively assess your patient, and so on. However, if you have questions about safety, drug administration, procedures, or anything else, always contact your nurse or your instructor.


Are you worried about beginning your first clinical? Completing nursing clinical is a significant commitment, but it is one that you may easily manage with a strategy, some excellent study suggestions, and the correct mindset.

May 12, 2023

Natasha Osei

Passionate Nurse Practitioner | People person
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