First Nursing Placement or Clinical Experience as a Nursing Student
In this video I want to discuss my experiences during my first nursing clinical experience and what I felt going through it and how it went. The goal of this video is to ease some of the anxiety nursing students may be experiencing going into their first clinical experience. I will also share with you some tips on how you can utilize your time in the clinical setting to learn as much as you can and ultimately be a better nurse!
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My first placement for my clinical course was on a sub-acute medical floor at a major hospital. It was a completely new environment and I had no real experience in a hospital setting prior to this so I was quite afraid the night before. I didn’t know what to expect and how to best prepare for my experience at a major hospital. However when the day came, I realized that my instructor really took her time introducing us to the floor and teaching us everything we needed to know. The first day was all about introducing ourselves to our instructor and colleagues and figuring out the best ways we can prepare for this clinical experience. This really helped ease my anxiety going into the rest of the clinical experience as I understood what the expectations were in this course. So, I want you nursing students to know that your instructor will take their time introducing you to the unit and making sure you are comfortable being able to learn in this environment.
By the end of the first clinical course, you will typically demonstrate your head to toe exam, obtain vital signs, be able to administer basic medications and to chart all of this in the appropriate areas. That was the goal of our first clinical experience which seems incredibly simple now but back then when I was nervous, anxious and did not know how to perform these tasks efficiently it was quite challenging and stressful. With that being said, here are some tips I would give for nursing students going into their first clinical.
- Come with a notebook in hand.
Being prepared to write down important pieces of information whether that is nursing tasks your instructor gives you or basic codes for opening the various doors to get access to different equipment. You need to be able to quickly write down various things and it will help a lot if you have a small notebook to quickly write them all in. Also, what I liked to do during my clinical was write down things I wanted to learn more about. For instance, if I saw a lot of CHF I would want to research a bit more about that, if I saw a certain medication prescribed all the time like pantoprazole, I would write that down and try to research more about it. Doing this allowed me to learn a lot of information but it also helped me in the theory courses as I related my patient experiences to the theory we learned.
- During down time, research about the mechanism of action of medications and try to remember what they do.
There was a lot of down time in the first clinical experience because the instructor had to watch you perform various tasks to prove your competency. That means you will have time that you aren’t really doing anything. That is when I took the time to research about the various medications I was giving and tried to remember what the medication did. I would quiz my colleague on these various medications so that we were both learning and making great use of our time.
- Learn about the pathophysiology of the conditions patients had and what that means from a clinical perspective.
Unfortunately, many patients that are on the sub-acute units have quite a bit of comorbidities. Taking the time to research about these various comorbidities really helps you for the theory courses you will take and will ultimately help you become a more informed nurse. You have to remember that prior to nursing school the concepts you learned in courses weren’t really used after that term, however as a nurse you will always need to know the theory and pathophysiology of various common conditions. It is not something you can forget and never use again. As a result it is important to take the time and learn about the various conditions you see and try to relate them to the patients clinical presentation. For instance understanding why a patient that has CHF is short of breath and requires oxygen.
There you have those are some times for nursing students going into their first clinical experience at the hospital. If you are a nurse watching this, what do you remember from your first experience and do you have tips to share for other nursing students? Leave a comment down below! Thanks for watching and see you in the next video!
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