Tips for Nursing School Clinical Exposure for Student Nurses

Like the first day of nursing school, you're likely to feel nervous on your first clinical day. The fact that this is happening is quite natural. Every other nurse has been in your shoes at some point, and your preceptors understand that this is your first time dealing with actual patients. This means that you won't be eaten by wolves on day one!

Nursing is a career that relies heavily on the "learn by doing" paradigm, or clinical, for many of your early experiences. Learn and practice as much as possible during clinical, acquire confidence in your talents, and think that you can face and surpass the challenges of being a nurse during clinical. While you may be nervous and anxious, your clinical rotation is where all of the time and effort you've put into your coursework and labs will begin to pay off. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you get started: 

The best way to learn is to ask questions.

In class, you have a question, but you're afraid to ask it out of concern that the answer is too simple or you already know it. There is no such thing as a foolish question in class, just as there isn't any clinical rotation. Ask if you don't understand something, then jot down the response! Make sure you don't miss out on a fantastic opportunity to learn something new.

Keep your head down and your heart open.

It's not uncommon for nurses to continue their education throughout their careers. When you begin clinical, you won't know everything, and when you leave, you won't know everything either. As a professional, you'll never run out of things to learn. It's impossible to explain all of the subtleties of patient care and communication in books or lectures, no matter how hard you try. Knowing that you haven't even scraped the surface of your knowledge when you start clinical practice will go a long way toward helping you construct a solid learning experience for yourself.

Be self-assured, too.

You'll be learning at breakneck speed in clinical, but that doesn't mean you haven't already learned a lot or that you aren't prepared for the challenges you'll confront. Your first nursing classes should have given you a good idea of what to expect when you start working in the field. 

Be a self-motivated student.

If you want to be a wonderful nurse, don't be a wallflower. If you find yourself in a new and frightening situation, don't succumb to the temptation to rely on your instincts. Nursing and other healthcare professionals are there to help you, but they are not there to do the learning for you. If you want to learn something, don't wait for someone to tell you what it is. Instead, go out and find it. 

Remember that the tiniest details can make a big difference.

Aside from learning about patient care and how a hospital or clinic works, you can demonstrate to your instructor and fellow students that you value your job and their time by taking the time to prepare for clinical trials. As a refresher, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Don't be late. This clinical rotation should be treated as if it were a regular employment.
  • Maintain an air of propriety at all times. This is a working setting, and the rules of the workplace still apply to you even though you're a student.
  • Make sure you're dressed appropriately. And don't give up!
  • Get some food in your system. 
  • Stay upbeat. While it's normal to need to let out some steam every now and then, do so in a private place and at your own pace.
  • Prepare yourself. 

May 10, 2022

Natasha Osei

Passionate Nurse Practitioner | People person

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