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10 pieces of advice you wish you’d gotten before your first clinicals

Kati Kleber, RN
Kati Kleber, RN

A few pieces of advice from Kati Kleber (aka Nurse Eyeroll) for this stressful experience…

1. Get good sleep the night before. Take a Benadryl or something if you are so nervous that you’re not sleeping (common).

2. Eat something before clinical starts, even if you’re not hungry. Every semester we have a new batch of nursing students, and every semester, one of them always passes out.

3. Admit when you don’t know something. Don’t guess. They all hate that. If you don’t know what electrolyte to watch for a drop after you give 40 mg IV Lasix, then say you don’t.

4. Don’t kiss their butts. They can see right through it like they can see through your white scrub pants. (Wear nude undies, ladies!)

5. PAY ATTENTION DURING REPORT AND PLEASE DO NOT INTERRUPT. If you have questions, wait until they’re done.

6. Always volunteer to do things when they ask the whole group, but give other people chances, too.

7. Don’t complain about classmates, classes or professors to them. They don’t care.

8. Get your stuff done in a timely manner and if you don’t know the best way to prioritize, ask in a way that doesn’t make you look like you just want the answer. “I’m not sure about the best way to go about doing this, or what my priority should be. I was thinking of doing it (blank) way…what do you think?”

9. If you’re working with the staff nurses and techs, be nice. The instructor always comes back and asks us what we thought, and we are brutally honest. If you sat back and watched the tech do 90 percent of the bath, your instructor will find out.

10. View clinicals as on-the-job training. Don’t look any more into it. People get way too wrapped up in being right, proving the instructor wrong, doing things the best. It’s all really exhausting and pointless because once you get out of nursing school, you completely forget all of that. I’ve already forgotten all of my instructors’ names. Accept that some instructors are just jerks and want you to feel stupid, and some honestly care. It’s like that out in the field, too. So go to clinical, learn what you can, take advantage of learning opportunities and go home.

To read more, visit NurseEyeRoll.com.

Nursey-123x1851Learning how to be a great nurse at the bedside while maintaining your sanity at home is no easy task. Becoming Nursey: From Code Blues to Code Browns, How to Take Care of Your Patients and Yourself talks about how to realistically live as a nurse, both at home and at the bedside…with a little humor and some shenanigans along the way. Get ready: It’s about to get real, real nursey. You can get your own copy at NurseEyeRoll.com, Amazon or Goodreads (ebook).

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Kati Kleber BSN, RN

Kati Kleber BSN, RN CCRN is a a nationally certified critical care nurse located in Charlotte, NC. She is the Nurse Advisor and Editorial Director of the #ProtectNurses initiative, and will be guiding the content we curate, create, and share back with you. Kleber, aka Nurse Eyeroll, is a popular blogger, the voice behind the wildly successful #ProTips series, and a frequent speaker on nursing leadership. You can buy her book "Becoming Nursey" at nurseeyeroll.com, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other sites. She also has two more books in the works, which will be published by the American Nurses Association and on shelves Feb. 2016!
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4 Responses to 10 pieces of advice you wish you’d gotten before your first clinicals

  1. FellowRN

    When you don’t know the answer, look it up first before asking.

  2. carolslee1949

    Be aware that some floor staff nurses don’t like working with students. I was in an LVN to RN “bridge” program, so I knew my way around patients, charting, etc. Our clinicals were generally 2 days a week, so we had to make the best of them. My 1st day on a particular unit, I went to give my patient her 9am meds, only to find that the floor LVN had already done it. The staff was usually notified which patients that students would be caring for, along with what exactly we’d be doing, such as meds, IV’s, charting, bathing, etc. The medication book was also flagged to alert the med nurse. I asked the “med nurse” why she’d given the meds and she said that SHE was responsible for all the patient meds. OK. Note to self : find instructor before 1pm med pass. I then went to assist my patient into the shower, only to find the staff RN flushing her peripheral Heplock. She told me I hadn’t done it, as scheduled at 9am, so she had to do it. I informed her that I had planned to flush it when I gave a scheduled dose of antibiotic at 10am. She said that the order was for qshift flush and it was scheduled for 9am. OK. Find instructor now! I discussed all this with the instructor, who was very sympathetic. Our clinical group was all LVN’s and the instructor felt confident letting us give meds, etc, as we were in our “complex med/surg” rotation. The instructor accompanied me as I was getting ready to hang the antibiotic and it was already hanging. The instructor said she would speak to the staff RN. Apparently, the staff RN had a problem with students, as did the staff LVN. Other members of our clinical group was having problems, so we were assigned to a different unit, which was a real pain in the butt, for 1 day. So, best advice……if you have problems with the staff, let your instructor know right away. Don’t antagonize the staff. Some relatively new RN’s have a problem with RN students who have been LVN’s a lot longer than they’ve been RN’s.

  3. JaneySue

    I was lucky enough to Win a copy of Kati’s book “Becoming Nursey” last year.
    Just wanted to say what a great read it is! I can relate to so many of the chapters and it is nice to know that nurses all over the world (I am from the UK) experience the same trials and tribulations during their working day.

    Best Wishes Kati and carry on the great work.

    Jane Rogers RGN DON.
    UK

  4. ThreePalms

    Boy, I do not look longingly back at student nurse clinicals. Talk about un-welcome. However, looking back on it, that particular hospital was very large and next to a college which graduated lots of new RNs each spring. The old-timer nurses were usually just tired of all the questions and sharing the floor with new students. I can understand that. But some of them were downright nasty, hiding the narc keys and charts (yep, back when we had paper charts). So we could not get the background on our patients, nor give some medications without continuously calling our instructor who had to find the nurse with the keys and charts. However, I will always remember the mega kind old timer nurses, LPNs and CNAs – all these years later, I still recall their sweet faces and encouraging, upbuilding comments. Carry on Kati!!!

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