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Have I become a “pro” at being a nursing student?

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This semester starts the strong wave of clinical hours for my Nurse Practitioner program. I’ll be spending many, many hours in the hospital as a student…again.

I’m just a tad bit nervous.

Okay, let me re-phrase that. I’m scared outta my mind!!

I feel like I’m back in nursing school–learning the ropes, talking the talk. Just when I started to find my own walking pace, I’m back to crawling at the next level.

I can’t help but wonder how different things are now from when I was in my diploma program. (I cannot believe it’s been seven years since I became an RN?!)

Here are a few comparisons between me as a basic nursing student and me as an advance practice nursing student:

1. If you don’t know it, know where and how to look it up!

When I was in nursing school, I carried around an average of four textbooks that totaled more than 75 lbs. I lugged my bookbag full of textbooks, notes, and drug reference guides everywhere I went. I can remember trying to figure out how I was going to stash my book bag while on clinicals, because students didn’t get lockers.

As an NP student, I’m still utilizing all the above, but now we have these things called smartphones–all 75 lbs worth of reference material in the palm of my hand. You gotta love technology.

2. The 7 P’s

Prior Proper Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance. (I think there are different versions, some more colorful than others. You can blame my time in the armed services for that one.)

I still remember the sleepless nights prior to a day of clinical. I would be up all hours of the night researching my meds, checking and rechecking contraindications, checking and rechecking the whys and why nots of a patient’s care. Oh, and care plans. Gooooood grief. I remember having to write them out. Objectives, interventions, outcomes…they still haunt me to this day.

Now as an NP student, I’m verifying evidence-based nursing and medical research management of care, risk reduction, test sensitivity, outcomes, and physiological response techniques. The game hasn’t changed, but the level of play is elevated beyond my imagination.

3. Stranger in a strange land

I remember the first time I set foot onto the clinical floor as a new student nurse. I was terrified. People were speaking a different language than me; they had a level of familiarity I could only dream of; and ultimately, they didn’t look scared and nothing shook them. I was in awe.

Boy, I can’t wait to feel that way again, let me tell you. (I hope you caught the sarcasm!)

In the end, I’m equal parts nervous, scared, anxious, excited, eager and motivated. Only time will tell how this first round of clinical rotations will go. Wish me luck.

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