What to Do When Your Assigned Nurse Doesn't Want a Student (RN)

by Elizabeth Russ, FNP

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    00:01 At some point, you are going to find yourself in a situation where your assigned nurse for that clinical day does not want a student, and they may make it, like, painfully obvious.

    00:14 And it's the worst. It's really awkward, but it probably will happen.

    00:17 So let's talk about how to kind of prepare for it.

    00:21 First, I want to just initially come out and say that this has absolutely nothing to do with you.

    00:28 Nurses that don't want students are almost always overwhelmed and usually understaffed as well.

    00:34 And dear friends, to no fault of your own, you make things a little bit slower than usual because you're learning.

    00:41 So it can add a pile of stress onto a lump of overwhelm, leading to your nurse being potentially quite unhappy with you being there.

    00:50 And that is hard.

    00:51 That's a bad situation for everyone.

    00:53 Right? Now, I am in no way saying that it is okay for them to be really mean to you.

    00:57 That is never okay.

    00:58 But I'm saying that just to give you a little bit of a context and for you to hopefully realize that this displeasure that they're showing is in no way personal to you.

    01:07 It has nothing to do with you.

    01:10 So let's just start by laying that groundwork.

    01:13 And here's a few tips to kind of survive the days when you are paired with a disgruntled nurse who, for the sake of argument, we're going to say is really overwhelmed and assumes you will be only adding to their already very, very full to-do list. So we've already learned ways to help that are going to make time at our clinical less stressful, so we can make the most of our time there and really prioritize things, so people feel less stressed, right? By identifying things that you want to learn that day, it makes it so much easier for that nurse to actually teach you something.

    01:44 All of a sudden it went from needing to teach you literally everything in their eyes to "Ok, I can teach you about this one thing ." That is doable.

    01:51 That alone, seriously, that interaction alone may turn their attitude around.

    01:56 And if it doesn't, you can always just let them know that you would at least like to shadow them for the day and ask if maybe they could occasionally explain some of their rationales out loud while they're doing them. Remember how we talked about learning prioritization from watching what they do first and second, and then about communication.

    02:18 Maybe it could just be a day when you rely heavily on some of those skills and just say, "I'm going to really focus on learning about prioritization and communication" through what you do today.

    02:27 And you can always offer to help if there are tasks that you feel comfortable taking over, but don't sign up for things you can't handle and it feels like they are turning you into a personal tech or something like that, because we already talked about what happens when we end up in those situations.

    02:44 Those are some pretty simple and non-confrontational ways to handle nurses who clearly don't want you to be there.

    02:52 And for many that that will work perfectly fine.

    02:55 But if you are feeling a little...

    02:57 A little bolder, you can always just ask: "How do you feel about having a student?" It's best to ask them this, like, mid eyeroll or while they're sitting there like "Argh", not happy at all about you existing.

    03:11 And the person will typically be quite caught off guard that you are calling them out on this and asking about their attitude, and they will either stew in silence or realize that you really don't have much of a choice about existing in this space with them either. And it gives you an opportunity to identify what they dislike about the situation and see if you can troubleshoot together and find a way to avoid adding to that perceived burden.

    03:36 It gives you a chance to discuss how the day can go so that you don't add even more stress. But it also kind of allows you to get something out of the experience when you work together and you share this.

    03:48 I have seen this method be surprisingly effective, actually, but it is quite bold and really calls people out and can be very uncomfortable if it goes poorly. So, it's not for everyone.

    04:00 With either strategy, communication is key.

    04:03 Don't just avoid them. Don't be like, "Well, they're mean.

    04:05 I'm going to go hide over here." Set up expectations early on so that you can both plan your day and then ask to never get placed with that nurse again, if it doesn't go well .

    04:17 It's the... Only the one day.

    04:18 You have lots of days there, and hopefully your next nurse will be much nicer.

    04:22 But the key here, overall, remember, it is not personal.

    04:26 It's not you.

    04:27 It's not. It's not even them.

    04:29 It's probably the situation that they are in .

    04:31 Now, what do you do when you have what feels like a much more personal conflict with your clinical instructor? Let's look into that in the next section.

    About the Lecture

    The lecture What to Do When Your Assigned Nurse Doesn't Want a Student (RN) by Elizabeth Russ, FNP is from the course Succeed in Clinical (RN).

    Author of lecture What to Do When Your Assigned Nurse Doesn't Want a Student (RN)

     Elizabeth Russ, FNP

    Elizabeth Russ, FNP

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