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Surviving nursing school clinicals


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I’m halfway through my first nurse practitioner clinical rotation. My internal medicine clinical rotation has been a doozy–I can’t remember the last time I was this tired.

I have a newfound respect for internal medicine and hospitalists around the world. These folks need to be prepared for anything.

I realized this week I failed miserably at taking care of myself. I almost didn’t survive the first half of this rotation simply because of my declining health. It’s one thing to manage, learn, acknowledge and process all the information that is presented to you. But if you aren’t healthy enough to be there and on top of your game, you can imagine how your performance will be affected.

Here are some basic, yet seriously important, tips for surviving clinicals.


  • A no-brainer, really. We need the proper amount of rest in order to function at our best. There is a fine balance between doing your pre-research and preparation for the next day and getting the rest you need in order to make it through. You’re not going to do well if your sleeping at the wheel.


  • Repeat after me: “I will never know everything. I am here to learn.” Do not stress over what is to come, or what has happened. The overwhelming feeling of failing or not accomplishing your goals should be a motivating force, not a defeating one. It’s okay to make mistakes–just be sure to learn from them and not repeat them.


  • This is another no-brainer, especially as a nurse. But you will be surprised how complacent we can get. Wash your hands before and after every single activity, whether it’s patient contact, answering a phone, picking up a chart, or typing on a computer. WASH. YOUR. HANDS.

Be a scout

  • I’m talking Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts–“Be prepared.” Show up to clinicals prepared and you eliminate 50% of the challenges you face. Preparation can be as simple as coming with the proper equipment, or as complex as researching a diagnosis or new medication. Stay prepared, remain prepared and continue being prepared.

Have fun

  • Last but not least, have fun! You’re here to learn, but nobody said learning had to be boring. You’d be surprised how much more you learn when you start to enjoy the activity. Humor is a great stress reliever.

Like I said, these aren’t secrets or complex tips. We all must crawl before we walk. Mastering these basic tips will help ensure you get the very best clinical experience, no matter where you are in your educational journey.

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