Well, you made it to clinicals in nursing school. You were given your patient assignment the night before, and you have studied your brain off.  But, you are still nervous that you’re going to mess something up.  Stress is at an all- time high. What if my patient hates me? What if my instructor hates me?....Ugh!  All the fears of nursing school.

Well, I was once in your shoes. It was time for my first clinical and I was so anxious I couldn’t see straight.  So, I studied night before, till I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer.  But by golly, I was prepared for anything, or so I thought.  I had looked up all ten of the diseases and disorders that my  patient suffered from and I knew all the drugs. 

My instructor set me free to care for the patient and off I went into the room to meet her.  Well, my patient had just taken her last breath on this earth!  I know this sounds horrible, but all I could think of was, she can’t die, I studied all night!  But die she did and I then got a new assignment with a patient that I knew nothing about. I had to start from scratch. But I survived and you will too. 


So, here are some tips to help you through your clinicals, they can’t possibly go any worse than mine did.


Set goals every day – Once you’ve set your goal for the day, don’t keep it a secret. Tell your instructor and the nurse you’re shadowing. They will help you keep those goals. Challenge yourself and don’t lie to yourself. If you’re afraid to start an I.V tell your instructor. The only way to get over the fear is to face it, head on and just do it!  Setting goals each day, gives you a sense of accomplishment when you achieve them. 


Ask questions if you don’t understand something.  Clinicals are for you to learn.  Don’t be afraid to admit when you did something wrong. But on the other hand, don’t be afraid to pat yourself on the back during clinical report and tell others what you did right.  Instructors thrive on seeing you do well. It lets them know they’ve done a good job.


Get some sleep – Clinicals are important and you need rest to absorb all the information and perform at your best. Don’t go out on the town the night before.  Go to bed!

Seek out opportunities – Always be open to learning something new.  Practice new skills and soak in everything you see.  Talk to the nurses there and ask them questions. Most nurses are glad to tell you about their learning experiences.


Play the “student card” – This can be tricky sometimes, because you really want to show what you have already learned.  But, “playing dumb” can be beneficial at times too.  Make sure you introduce yourself to all the nurses and doctors.  When doctors come in to make rounds, many of them enjoy teaching students. They are passionate about what they do and don’t mind giving you a short lecture about their specialty. The patients often enjoy this since they learn from the information too.  You’ll be amazed at how much you can learn if you just ask questions.


Be friendly and helpful- I know it seems like I shouldn’t have to say this, but please be friendly and helpful. It’s easy (especially in the last two semesters of nursing school) to feel as if you really should be getting paid, so you develop a chip on your shoulder. Don’t do it. Stay humble. There are always new things to learn and all nurses must pay their dues in clinicals.  Make the best of it and remember why you’re there…to learn! If you’re nice to people they will help you and seek out learning opportunities for you. So, be nice!


I would love to hear more ideas for students in clinicals. If you have some, please share by commenting below.  Share this on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and LinkedIn, to help other students. Remember, sharing is caring.