Being a nursing student can be overwhelming as you are introduced into a world of many wonderful and terrifying experiences. Some of these experiences are literally life or death. As a nurse, I want every nursing student to have a successful experience. Looking back to my nursing student days, I wish that I knew more of what my assigned nurse was going through. So I wrote a letter to my old self (the nursing student) from my present self (the nurse). Here are some things that I wish nursing students knew before they came to clinical:
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Dear Nursing Student,
I understand that nursing school is hard. I know you’re eager to ask a million questions. I know you want to practice a specific skill so you can achieve your goal for the day. I understand that care plans are annoying. I understand that you have a big test tomorrow that you need to study for. I get it. I’ve been there too… But while you’re under my supervision, there’s some things I want you to know:
Please come prepared.
Even if you don’t know our patient assignment, be prepared to get report. I don’t always have time to wait while you get a report sheet, a pen, your stethoscope, your water bottle, and a clipboard… Please come ready for the day.
I don’t receive extra pay.
A lot of times, I don’t even know I’m getting a nursing student until I walk on the floor. I’m not compensated to teach you. So please remember to be patient, respectful, understanding, helpful, and involved in your learning.
I don’t hate you.
I’m just overwhelmed by my patient load and can’t always give you as much time as I’d like.
The patient comes first.
Yes, I understand that you are here to better your nursing experience and are paying a lot of money to get this experience. But please don’t make it all about you. While I will do my best to teach you, my primary responsibility is to the patient.
Sometimes, it’s best to ask question later.
If it is a sensitive question, it is probably best to ask your question outside of the room. Be careful with what you ask in front of the patient.
Don’t do any patient care without my permission.
I know you want to be helpful, but please ask me first. Once, I had a nursing student get a fresh postoperative spine patient to the bathroom. The patient was not supposed to ambulate and was ordered to be supine for twenty-four hours. Another time, I had a different nursing student try to ambulate a high fall risk patient alone, which almost resulted in a fall. Remember that it is my nursing license on the line if something were to happen. Please communicate with your nurse before trying to be helpful.
Put your phone away.
Unless you are on break or educating yourself on a diagnosis, please put your phone away. I understand that it sounds hypocritical as many of us nurses have our phones out, but don’t use your phone at the nurses station. It looks really unprofessional and is disrespectful when I’m trying to educate you.
Being assertive is helpful.
I like it when you are assertive in your learning. Otherwise, I forget what you’re capable of doing.
If I give you a learning opportunity, take it!
Don’t turn it down because you have already “done it.” If I ask you if you want to flush an IV or put in a urinary catheter, do it. It’s your job to be involved in your nursing experience. Take every learning opportunity the nurse is willing to give you.
You are presenting yourself for a potential job.
Being a nursing student isn’t just about getting experience on the floor. It’s also about presenting yourself for a potential job opportunity. We will remember the nursing students who impress us. We also will remember those who acted unprofessionally or weren’t involved in their learning experience. Make a good first impression. Be professional and involved in your learning.
I remember what it’s like to be a nursing student. It’s not always easy, but you’ll make it! I wish you the best in your future nursing endeavours! Welcome to the nursing world!
Free Resources To Prepare Nurses and Nursing Students:
I understand that nursing school is hard and clinicals can be just as challenging! To help you through those hard and confusing times, we’ve made a free nursing resources library that includes resume examples, cover letter examples, report sheets, and more! I personally use these report sheets at my current nursing job and they have been so helpful in organizing my day! I hope that these “nursing brains” can help better prepare you for clinical rotations. Also, feel free to check out our blog posts on helpful nursing accessories and tips for surviving a long nursing shift! I hope that these tools help prepare you so you can focus on being the best nurse possible.
What do you think?
Nurses, what do you wish nursing students knew before coming to clinical? Nursing students, was this information helpful? What questions do you have for other nurses about clinical rotations? Let us know in the comments below!!
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