Conduct Your Clinicals Correctly and Seal Your Nursing Career Fate
Getting clinical experience is a crucial aspect in educating nurses. Not only are you given the opportunity to watch nurses in action, you are expected to be an active participant. Clinicals are a part of both LPN and RN programs and will help pave the way for your future nursing career.
During the clinical portion of your nursing education, you may work in a number of different types of medical facilities. Whether yours is a quiet nursing home or busy metro hospital, the goal is to absorb as much hands-on knowledge as you can. How you work during this time will have an effect on your grade so it is important that you put your best foot forward. This is also the beginning of your networking as a nurse, so standing out positively will put you on the radar as someone worth hiring in the future.
Ways You Can Stay Noticed During Clinicals
Every nursing school program will be different, but once you have entered the clinical portion of your education, most can expect to follow other nurses and try basic procedures. To make this a stepping stone towards your career, you’ll want to be noticed by those working around you in a positive way.
Know Your Place
Nurses are very busy, and it may be easy for them to forget that you are even there. Rather than just fall into the background, take notes while they are working and then use down time to ask questions about what you observed. This makes sure that they are able to maintain focus on the patient during critical times, while still giving you the opportunity to learn. If you start asking questions in the heat of the moment, you may be interrupting them at a critical moment in patient care.
Do volunteer when the moment arises. If you are comfortable with doing a head to toe assessment, ask if you can do the next one. To ease the mind of the attending nurse, verbalize each step before you take it. This gives them the chance to correct a mistake before you make it, protecting the patient, you and themselves.
Once you are more involved in patient care, make sure that you do introduce yourself to patients as a student nurse, but always show confidence to keep them at ease. If they are not comfortable with your position, respect their decision with grace and remain so that the nurse in charge can see you are committed to learning under any circumstance.
Speak out if you notice any safety concerns. This can be anything from medications being left out in patient areas, to a call button that is out of reach. Your superiors will see this as a sign of a student nurse who is able to think beyond bedside care.
Practice Only What You Know
Be willing to take initiative, but know how to discern when something is above your skill level. This is not the time to make a life or death call, but you should be able to perform some basic tasks. Offer to take vital signs or medical histories, and then ask for feedback when finished with each task. Take any criticism as a learning experience, and show the person you have the ability to do better next time.
Share What You Have Learned
Your clinical instructors should always be advised of what you have learned so far in your training. This ensures that they don’t assign something to you that is above your skill level. If that does mistakenly happen, politely let them know you have not yet received any training for the task, but ask to have them walk you through it. When you learn a new procedure in lab, share that with your clinical supervisors and ask to see it used in practice. Use this time to show off your knowledge by anticipating their steps and describing the how and why for each one.
Stay Invested In Your Education
Make the most of any down time by asking questions or offering to work with another nurse on their rounds. There is only so much time allocated to clinicals, and you will be wishing you had spent more time there once you do graduate from nursing school. There is no amount of bookwork you can complete which will prepare you for the multiple skills you’ll need once you have earned your degree.
Remember that this is your first real step into the medical world, so make a lasting impression. Be polite and courteous to all the professionals that you meet, introduce yourself by name, and share your career ambitions. If you do clinicals right, you’ll be amazed at how well your presence is remembered when it comes time for you to go back and apply for a position with that RN behind your name.