What Every Nursing Student Should Know About Clinicals

Who’s ready for their first day of clinicals? Let me guess: you are probably a bit terrified, yet still excited about the idea of putting your knowledge to work? Boy, do I remember that feeling! Is my instructor going to stand over me and watch everything I do? What if I totally screw up? Many of my fellow students were nursing assistants. I, on the other hand, was brand new to all things nursing. My first day was far from boring and in hindsight quite amusing. In my clinical group, there was speculation that we wouldn’t do all that much on our first day other than go over some logistics of the facility as well as our scope of practice. WRONG! This is a HUGE misconception. Always assume you will dive right in on your first day. We did go through the logistics, however, that lasted all of about 45 minutes of a six hour shift. My first task was administering a TB shot to one of the nursing home residents.

{The only shot I had ever given was to an orange…}

I assure you, there were about 1,000 things I would rather do than have my first shot be a trans-dermal injection on an 85 year-old woman’s extremely thin skin! However, I had to do it and I had the privilege of doing it in front of my entire clinical group and instructor. Guess what?? I survived, shaky hands and all and so did the patient! My next assignment was to take a 93 year-old patient into the shower room for a shower. How hard can this be? I’m a mom for goodness sake! Well, we were in that room for about 45 minutes. Unfortunately, my dear patient had some bowel incontinence issues and that didn’t take any break while we were in that room. By the time we were finished, I was completely drenched in water and sweat. I had successfully backed up the drain due to her intestinal issues and she had grabbed the handheld sprayer and told me she would just do it herself (with a few expletives thrown in). My patient was a spitfire of a lady and she didn’t hold anything back. I emerged from the shower thinking “what have I gotten myself into?” We went back to her room and she started laughing and laughing and I found myself quickly relaxing. She ended up being one of the sweetest and funniest ladies I had the pleasure of meeting. Later in the day, I spent some time just chatting with a very lonely, elderly woman. When I was leaving she offered to pay me $30.00 to come and visit her every day. It was a really sad moment, but I felt better when I was back the next day and she had no recollection of meeting me. That was my first true understanding of how important the therapeutic side of nursing was and I thought… “I think I like what I have gotten myself into.” So what can you take from this? Expect that something will probably go wrong. Accept that you will be OK if something does go wrong. This is what clinical is all about: learning! Ask questions, be completely engaged, work your butt off and don’t be terrified, be excited! You are on your way to becoming a nurse! -Guest Blogger Featured image credit: http://www.airforcemedicine.af.mil/MTF/RAF-Alconbury/News-Events/Article/427125/keeslers-emergency-room-first-in-air-force-to-use-electronic-medical-records-sy/