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5 ways to survive nursing school clinicals

Going through clinicals is a mandatory part of every nursing student’s curriculum. However, clinicals aren’t always easy and it can be difficult to complete when you’re overwhelmed with school work and other obligations. However, getting through this difficult journey with flying colors will only make you a better nurse. Consider these tips on how to successfully survive nursing school clinicals.

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1. Set goals
As a student you may be unsure what to do on your first day of clinicals. After all, you’re there to learn right? Correct. However, it isn’t the nurse’s job to do much handling. It’s their priority to teach you valuable skills that you will be able to apply throughout your whole nursing career. That’s why it’s so important that nursing students set goals. Each week, try to have three goals in mind that you’d like to accomplish. This could be learning how to accurately perform a physical exam or how to order diagnostic tests. Whatever your three goals are at the beginning of the week, it’s important to mention them to your supervisor right away. That way, he or she can be conscientious of getting those goals taken care of throughout the week.

2. Make friends
Regardless of what type of advanced nursing degree you’re pursuing, there will always be people on the same path as you. That’s why it’s important to buddy up. Though this isn’t your first-ever round of clinicals, this hands-on experience can still be hard to get through. Making friends can make clinicals a whole lot easier. They may have learned something in their years of experience that you haven’t, and vice versa. They also can be your go-to people when your set of daily tasks is a little too overwhelming and you need to delegate a few obligations.

3. Find a good preceptor
Having a good mentor is half the battle when it comes to getting through clinical rounds. Regardless of what type of master’s program you’re in, you may have to find a preceptor on your own. When you were younger, it was more likely that your program would set you up with a preceptor without much involvement from you. Now, you have much more say in who you’re matched up with. You can even use your own professional network to find the preceptor of your choice. Regardless of who you choose, make sure you do your research so you know they’re the right fit for you.

4. Let people know you’re a student
Many graduate students may be too shy to mention that they’re a student in front of medical personnel. However, sometimes playing the student card can work in your benefit. While you may have some knowledge from your years of working as a registered nurse, you might not have knowledge about certain technical procedures that only attending nurses and physicians can teach you about. Sometimes patients may appreciate your honesty here as well, especially if this is the first time you’re performing a new procedure.

5. Have confidence
Sure, some staff may have been in the field longer than you but that doesn’t mean you’re clueless. If anything, you may have a leg up after being taught the latest and greatest procedures in medicine. When discussing a process or going through a routine you’re familiar with, don’t be nervous. It’s important to have confidence to show you know what you’re doing and to keep the patient calm while you’re doing it. If medical staff questions what you’re doing, make sure you have a good solid explanation to back it up.


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