During nursing school, nursing clinical practice is a period of rapid learning through real life experience that is meant to expose you to a wide variety of nursing areas. While the principles of nursing are the same across all disciplines, with an emphasis on hand washing, sterile technique and skin integrity maintenance, there are important variations across the lifespan that are learned through nursing clinical practice prior to graduation.
Every nursing school experience has certain required areas that must be covered. Typically, this begins with a long-term care/CNA experience, which covers nurse basics like making a bed, checking vital signs, ambulating a patient safely and performing bed baths. These are all learned to form the basis of nursing knowledge, and they are built upon as nursing clinicals progress.
After the basics, the progression usually moves into adult health or medical/surgical nursing. "Med/Surg" nursing is the backbone of the profession, and it encompasses all aspects of care for adults. Students will learn how to care for a post-surgical patient, including complications that may result from the surgery. They will also probably spend a day or two in the operating room to become familiar with procedure.
After adult health, psychiatric nursing will be discussed. This nursing clinical is valuable for all nursing students because the nurse will undoubtedly encounter patients with some kind of mental health issue. This clinical experience gives the student an opportunity to interact with mentally ill patients and learn how to care for them.
From this point, nursing schools may diverge in their order, but certain experiences are always present, such as pediatric nursing, which deals with caring for children from birth to the age of eighteen. Children have different needs than adults because of the maturity of their bodies, rapid growth and development and differences in anatomy. They require special treatment, not only from drugs and procedures, but also emotionally and mentally. A one-year-old toddler with croup should be treated differently than the 15-year-old cancer patient, and the pediatric nursing clinical helps the nursing student learn how to provide treatment in both cases.
Obstetric nursing is also an important part of nursing school clinicals. This sector teaches the nurse not only how to care for an actively laboring mother, but also special treatment concerns of the pregnant patient and the assessment and treatment of a newborn baby.
Finally, just prior to nursing school graduation, critical care nursing clinical practice must be completed. This includes learning about how to manage a complex patient with multiple illnesses that need to be balanced and managed effectively for a positive outcome. Nursing students learn about ventilated patients, hemodynamics, EKG basics and IV medications. It is the culmination of all the nursing clinicals up to this point, and it brings in most of the skills learned in the other nursing practice clinicals.
BSN students have additional nursing clinical practice somewhere before nursing school graduation. This clinical practice relates to community and public health. Working with the homeless, underprivileged and even in workplaces and schools is covered in this experience.
Nursing clinical practice helps prepare the nursing student to be an effective nurse upon graduation. It also helps the nursing school graduate determine where he or she would like to practice.
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