I asked experienced nurses for their input on clinical tips for nursing students. I thought the response was incredibly helpful and valuable, and I wanted to to share these clinical tips with you!
Clinical tips for nursing students
- I just graduated, but the #1 best thing I learned was to make friends with the CNA’s/techs. They know the floor and will help you.
- Don’t stand in the corning waiting to be told what to do… ask!
- “I don’t know the answer to that but I will find out and get back to you” is a great talking point for navigating new and unfamiliar situations.
- Don’t be afraid of your supervising RN! They can be a great resource and also volunteer to do any skill that you can.
- I had a student this week who took initiative. She did things like clean up the patient’s bedside table and kept busy in the room.
- Go into each clinical with the objectives of the clinical in your mind. Early clinicals are about skills, and then management and coordination are the focus later one.
- Don’t expect to be a rock star on your first go as a student.
- Just because a patient isn’t assign to you doesn’t mean they aren’t yours too. Nursing is a team effort.
- Remember the difference in best practice versus what you might see others doing.
- Get a tour of the unit and get a good look at the supply room so you have a general idea of where things are located. We tend to waste a lot of time as students way-finding and searching for equipment.
- Don’t stand around bored! My students follow me on all patients, not just “their” patient. They see more than their peers who don’t!
- Have an extra quick snack you can eat if you start to feel woozy (granola bar, almonds, or something else).
- If you sat back and kicked it while the CNA did the bed bath you were supposed to do, your clinical instructor will find out.
- If you don’t know something, don’t pretend that you do. Say you don’t know and learn!
- Say to the other nurses on the unit, “Is there anything I could help you with? If there’s anything you think I’d like to see, please let me know.”
- Always have scissors, tape, alcohol wipes, saline flush, and a stethoscope on your person. RNs will thank you.”
- Smile. Genuinely smile. I love to see my resident’s beam when I smile and interact with them!
- Learn the best way to contact RNs if you answer a call light and the patient needs something from the primary RN.
- Never tell the RN you “aren’t interested in this unit,” because you can always learn, even if you don’t plan to start your career there.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions or explore what your gut might be telling you if you think something is wrong.
- I would always carry a medium-sized notebook and would take notes on what I learned for future care plans.
- Watch different nurses complete head-to-toe assessments and notice the subtle differences in how they move through the assessment and the talking points they use. (Write down the ones you really like!)
- Answer call lights! It’s a simple way to learn to talk to patients, find out what’s going on, and gain confidence.
- When interacting with patients, be sure to use clear, simple language and avoid medical jargon. This will help ensure that patients understand what you are saying and feel more comfortable asking questions.
- Don’t freak out if you make a mistake. It’s expected that students will mess things up, be inefficient, and require explanations.
- If a nurse is unkind to you, don’t sweat it. Unfortunately, it happens. Not everyone is thrilled or prepared to have students. (Check out this post for more details.)
- After clinical, make sure you take a good shower and relax. Clinical is stressful!
More Resources: Clinical Tips for Nursing Students
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