One of the biggest complaints I had about
clinical when I was in nursing school was I
felt like I was learning the exact same
thing over and over and over again, and I
wasn't expanding my knowledge base very
much, making it feel, like, honestly, kind of
But here's the thing I didn't grasp.
Nobody knows what you need to know at your
clinical experience other than
you. Even your clinical instructor has no
real idea of the experiences that you
have had or need to have because they're in
charge of, like, fifteen people, and that
is just way too many to keep track of.
And if you want the most out of your
clinical experience, you are going to have to
start advocating for you and your own
learning experiences, which
very fortunately sounds a whole lot scarier
than it actually is.
I promise you can do this.
And here's how you're going to start.
First, I would recommend writing down all of
the skills that you are
required to learn in your current rotation
and all of the things that you see
happening around you that you would love to
be able to learn from, right?
Those are going to be your unit based
We're like, "Oh, you do a lot of that here.
I want to learn that" even if they aren't
necessarily on your list of check-offs you
have to do this semester.
And then, when you are assigned a nurse, show
them the list and ask if
there's any of that that would fit in with
the assignment that you guys have that day.
There's no need to spend time relearning how
to put meds through a g-tube twelve times if
you have never hung an IV piggy back.
Right? But they don't know that you've never
done that unless you show them.
And they might think, like, "Wow, I'm going
to teach them how to use a g-tube." And in
your head you're like, "Oh my gosh, I know
how to do this." By showing them the list of
"I want to learn these things", it lets them
choose new things that are available
from your patient pool that you actually
want to learn.
But don't overwhelm yourself or your nurse.
See if you can pick one to two skills a day
, so it's not feeling, like, a crazy
burden or too much to learn.
And hopefully it's, in the perfect world, a
recurring task so that you can observe the
first time in the morning, right?, and then
repeat it throughout the day, maybe try and
get a second time when you can actually do
Because practice really does make perfect
And when you have done that skill a few
times, and you feel a little bit better about
it, cross it off.
Will you be a master of this skill at this
Heck no. But you have been introduced to it
And the goal of clinical is to introduce you
to as many things as possible.
Another thing that you can do is you can ask
the nurses if there is something that is
unique to this unit that you really should
Remember when we were discussing always
saying yes to getting pulled into these
random "cool" situations?
Sometimes you have to ask and advocate to
actually get those experiences
depending on the unit culture, but it can
often be as easy as asking, "Hey,
what should I see while I'm here?
What should I take advantage of?" And that,
kind of, gets the process started and that
gets that nurse thinking, "Oh yeah, cool.
Let me see what I can find for you." It's
not as easy with just going
with whatever the flow is to use this type
of method where you're being really
proactive. But I promise when you are taking
charge of your own learning and
advocating for new experiences and you're
inquisitive and clear with what skills you
still need, you will get so much more out of
clinical and the nurses that are
working with you will appreciate it so much
because then they can focus on teaching you
one or two things a day versus trying to,
like, think, "Oh my gosh, I have to explain
everything to this student", which is
In the next section, we're going to go over
a bunch of my favorite clinical tips.
I'll see you there.