Top 5 Tips on How to Prepare for Nursing Clinicals

Nursing school clinical rotations, clinical experience, nursing student, patient care
a Nursing student gaining patient care and nursing during her clinical rotation.

Starting nursing school clinical rotations is an exciting and pivotal moment in your nursing educational journey. You will finally apply all the theories and concepts you learned in class to real life clinical practices. In conjunction with your enthusiasm, you may feel overwhelmed, nervous, and apprehensive starting your clinical rotations. The overflow of these emotions are completely normal and experienced by nursing students all over the world, you are not alone! One great way to control these emotions by gaining clinical confidence and preparation before starting your rotation is enrolling in ACT’s 8 week self-paced fully online Clinical Medical Assistant Certification course. This course is a great way to gain a broad clinical foundation for delivering patient care in surgical, outpatient, impatient, home-health, emergency settings.

Furthermore, take a deep breath, stay positive, and read the following valuable tips by nurses who have been exactly where you are. Follow this guide on how to prepare for nursing clinicals, and you will surely shine with confidence throughout your nursing school clinical rotations!

1. Maintain A Learning Mindset at All Times

You will likely start your clinical rotation with an abundance of nursing knowledge comprised of various principles and concepts you learned in lectures and labs, but don’t allow that to impede your willingness to learn more. There is still a wealth of knowledge, skills, and practices you have to learn that go beyond the classroom setting. Maintaining a growth and learning mindset throughout your clinical rotations will only set you up for unparalleled success! Additionally, notify your clinical instructors if you have yet to get involved in a unique case or experience you are interested in and your desire to acquire more learning experiences. Nursing is a complex profession that is constantly changing, therefore, learning as opposed to “knowing” is a beneficial practice all nursing students should acquire.

2. Do More Than What Is Expected Of You

Make your time resourceful, take initiative to advance your skills and knowledge – even on down times. For example, respond to call lights, obtain vital signs, learn how to use the hospital’s electronic health record, help patients any way you can – from changing their socks to ensuring their comfort, ask nursing staff how you can help or if you can shadow them, volunteer to help with tasks that may not be highly desired or comfortable to do (don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty), and ensure patient’s needs are concisely communicated to nursing staff at all times.

3. Research Unfamiliar Concepts

When you research unfamiliar concepts that you are exposed to during your nursing school clinical rotation, you will better understand the logic and key pieces of information associated with the patient’s care, treatment plan, and outcome. Each disease can severely influence the patient’s treatment plan from medications received to procedures they must undergo. Researching and understanding the background knowledge on concepts you do not fully comprehend will allow you to start critically thinking through nursing interventions. It will also boost your confidence as a nursing student and willingness to take on more complex roles during your clinical rotation.

4. Display a Positive & Optimistic Attitude

Smile, ask questions, be engaged.

5. Establish Relationships

Forming strong professional relationships with your colleagues in your nursing school clinical rotations is just as important as developing practical nursing skills and knowledge. Not only is relationship building beneficial for networking, it fosters leadership skills and the ability to communicate with professionals of different disciplines within the healthcare team that will ultimately translate to higher quality patient care. Get to know the nursing staff and your preceptors; maintain personable and professional interactions with them to facilitate your current and future nursing involvements. Besides, you never know when you will need a good reference letter!

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