Nursing Clinicals: The Do's and Don'ts

NursingNovember 13, 2013

Nursing clinicals are an essential part of every nurse's training. They allow you to visualize and practice what you have learned in school as well as develop necessary patient care skills. Without the right tools and attitude, clinicals can be very stressful. Here's a list of the do's and don'ts of nursing clinicals.

Do: Be prepared

Have your uniform and gear, such as pens and stethoscopes, set out the night before. Clinicals start when your shift starts, and that can mean a very early morning for you.

Don't: Be a grouch

Check your attitude at the door because nobody enjoys working with a grumpy nursing student. The facilities in which you complete your clinicals are often potential employers, so it is important to put your best foot forward. Be positive about the situations you encounter, even if they are difficult. Nursing is a profession where anything can happen, thus a positive attitude and flexibility are required, as noted by U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Do: Get your homework done

Nursing clinicals are a step-by-step process. They become more complex as you master basic skills. Clinicals most often begin in a nursing home or long-term care facility in which basic things like facilitating bed baths, ambulating a patient, and checking vital signs are practiced. Before entering that facility, you should analyze books and written reports, prepared to practice what you have learned. By the end of nursing school, you should be able to calculate IV drip rates and interpret an EKG.

Do: Be on time

Being late is tacky and unprofessional. Nurses have to be on time to their shifts, or one of their coworkers is forced to cover for them even after just coming off a 12-hour shift. Nobody likes to work with someone who is unreliable.

Don't: Miss a learning opportunity — from anyone

Nursing clinicals are your time to soak up as much information and training as possible. Ask if you can see procedures performed, or if you can follow a patient to an MRI. Pay attention when doctors are examining your patient, and don't miss out on an opportunity to listen to an interesting heart rhythm or breathing sound. Everything you learn will make you a better nurse.

Do: Think about the future

Clinicals can cover long-term care, adult health or medical surgical nursing, psychiatric nursing, labor and delivery, pediatrics, acute care, and community health, depending on the program. Take the good with the bad, and see what area interests you most, all with the knowledge that you can move around if you want to. Pay attention to how you feel at the end of the day, and then focus on what made you feel the most fulfilled.

Nursing clinicals are the time for you to interact with and care for a variety of patients and see where your passion lies.

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