By Rachel Dunbar
One of the things about PUC’s nursing program that gives students anxiety are clinicals. I remember how awkward and out of place I felt at first. As time passes, you learn a lot and begin to feel more useful and less in the way. Basically from the start of the program you are in the hospital. For the first day they have you paired up with someone to give a bed bath. It’s so funny thinking back to how awkward I felt, wondering, “What supplies do I need? Where do I get them? How do I bathe a complete stranger?” my only task was to give a bed bath and it felt like such a huge task. Having a partner made all the difference though. After each clinical day, I felt more comfortable and confident.
I enjoyed clinicals because they allowed me to see what I was studying. I felt I could actually apply what I was learning and use it when I went to the hospital. Each clinical taught me something different, seeing different floors with each rotation. I always had an idea of where I wanted to work as a nurse but I didn’t realize how many different units there were so it was great to experience all of them.
Knowing what I know now, I offer you four simple tips to take through your clinicals:
- Be safe. In every task you’re about to do, be safe. You will learn the different safety precautions throughout the program; use them!! You might see a nurse who takes shortcuts to save time; but never compromise your safety precautions. They’re there to help you, not hinder you.
- Ask questions. Never be afraid to ask when you are unsure about something. If your nurse asks you to do something and you don’t know how; ask! It seems like an easy concept but sometimes people just want to do what their nurse asks, and come off more competent than they actually are. When you have nurses who have practiced for a long time they forget you might not know how to start an IV pump because it’s something they do every single day. It is your job as a student to let your nurse know what you feel comfortable doing.
- Speak up! If you’re unsure about something say so! It will get easier to speak up when you’re in second year because your knowledge base and clinical experience is bigger, and you will begin to actually trust your gut. I started to feel like a real nurse when my nurses would ask me questions about our patients and I could actually give them the right answer. You will also have many “ah ha” moments as you connect what your studying to the clinical setting.
- Take every opportunity you can. As you pass different skills tests, you then have the right to be able to do those things in the hospital (scary I know!). If a nurse asks if you want to put in a foley catheter and you’ve passed the skills test; say yes! When you’re a student you get to have another nurse with you to walk you through the steps if you need it. Once you become a nurse you are expected know be able to perform all the tasks within your scope of practice without help. Take advantage of being a student and learn everything you can!
- Try to see everything you can. One time a patient of mine was going to have an angiogram done and I had never seen one so I asked my nurse if I could go with him. She said the Cath lab doesn’t usually like to have students but she would ask, and they said yes! I got to go simply because I asked if I could. Take every opportunity to see things you haven’t seen, simply for gaining knowledge. Because I saw an angiogram I will never forget what it is and how it works; and I can better explain it to my patients in the future.
Clinicals can be nerve-racking, but trust your knowledge as you gain it, ask questions if you’re not sure, and know every nurse you’re with was once a student.
Interested in learning more about the nursing program at PUC? If you visit the Admissions website, you can find more information about the program, curriculum guidesheets, and a live chat where you can ask an enrollment counselor anything you need. You can also call (800) 862-7080, option 2 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more help.