Top 10 Rules for Nursing Clinicals

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Every university and/or facility will be different from what my recommendations are below. But I have gathered input from my own school and different students that have shadowed me to make up these universal rules for your nursing clinicals.


"As nursing students, you have fresh, nursing knowledge so be proud of it."
-dlmjourney.

But first, let us understand: Why are professors strict during our nursing clinicals?

 

When you enter an institution, you are the guest. You are a representative of your school and you must represent with pride and confidence. It is also important to remember that in order for you to learn under a hospital/facility, your school has a partnership with them. This means that they have a mutual contract that allows nursing students to learn the ways of the institution and its paid for!

20% Off Dickies Scrubs at Lydia's

You might be wondering why I added ‘it’s paid for’ from my previous statement. Statistics state that the average cost per new graduate hire is $41,624 (Nurse Economic$, 2007). A facility will cover these costs for a new grad nurse because it benefits them in many ways… the main reason is that they get a new nurse to work for them! Now as a student, you get to learn from a facility as if you were a new grad hire and it may or may not benefit the facility, so the expenses of teaching you is covered regardless. Long story short, as students we should be grateful that we have these partnerships in place.

 


In no particular order, let’s get started…

  1. Know your Student Nurse Handbook

    • Every facility is different and have specific rules. The handbook usually includes what is expected from you, maintaining school integrity, scrubs, etc.
  2. Look presentable!

    • This is so important. Remember… you are a representative of your school! Here’s the run down:

      1. Don’t be scared to do your make-up.

      2. Fix your hair up, not down.

      3. You can get a manicure, but no acrylics.

      4. Murses… keep your beard nice and tight.

      5. Keep your scrubs wrinkle-free and appropriate.

      6. All nature of body cracks should be covered appropriately.

  3. Be on time!

    • You should never be late. This is pretty self-explanatory.

  4. Be prepared!

  5. Be respectful!

    • This is self-explanatory as well. Be respectful to the patients, staff members, and to each other.

    • Be mindful of your tone and voice. I’ve come across a particular group of nursing students who came into the unit arrogantly yelling as if they’re coming to party, making their presence known so loud that it woke up our patients. This is rude and disrespectful. Don’t do this!

  6. Know what you can/cannot do!

    • Schools are very particulate and your clinicals are driven by what skills you’ve been checked off on. Some schools will let you do IVs, some won’t. Before getting excited to do particular skill, go to your instructor first! Get it approved and your instructor may do it with you.

  7. Be an advocate!

    • Let’s face the reality… As students, you have fresh nursing knowledge so be proud of it. If you come across a questionable nursing practice, bring it to your instructor’s attention. Be confident on what you’re questioning, explain your reasoning, and your instructor will report it to the chain of command.
  8. Learn!

    • This is the perfect opportunity to import what you know into clinical practice. It is during clinicals where you can make correlations and rationales for medical diagnosis. This is the only place where you can practice and understand what you’re doing before you get into the field.
  9. Help others!

    • Let’s face another reality… some nursing students thrive and some do not. Help each other as much as you can.
  10. Finish on time!

    • You should never be late with turning in your assignments and required paperwork.

References:

Nursing Economic$ (2007). A Magnetic Strategy for New Graduate Nurses. [PDF] pp.6-11. Available at: https://www.nursingeconomics.net/ce/2009/article020612.pdf [Accessed 27 Mar. 2018].

DISCLOSURE:

There are some affiliate links above that I get paid for, but they're are all products I highly recommend. I would not put anything on this page that I haven't verified and/or personally used.


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Study Tips for Nursing Students

Nursing school is tough. Nursing students are made responsible to memorize and understand so much material in so little time, but guess what? Before you know, you're mixing up signs/symptoms (s/s) between medical diagnoses. This is when you start making mistakes during exams. Every student usually develops their own study habits after the first or second exam, but I wanted to share how I studied throughout nursing school with the hopes that it may help you as well. Note: Some of the habits that I developed I've acquired from different people. I will give credit to those throughout my article because without them, I would've never passed! :)

1. I never 'just' used the professors lecture material...

Don't get me wrong... Some professors provide the necessary content for you, however, some do not. And those who don't provide the content usually want the students to go home and do they're studying. This is one of the main reasons why I never just rely on given content. It's almost ALWAYS good to go home and study on your own when you go home.

Usually I have the professor's lecture printed out before hand when I go to class. I usually use the printed out material to take my notes down. After lecture, I would go home and re-type everything! (Note: I used to re-write everything, but this was very time-consuming so I decided to re-type instead.) Re-typing was my way of re-inforcing everything. The more you re-inforce, the better it sticks.

2. I always make cheat sheets...

You're probably like.. Cheat sheets? We can't cheat in nursing school! lol! Yes, definitely... there will be NO CHEATING in nursing school at all! But these sheets that I make includes everything in one sheet of paper per diagnosis. And when I say everything, I mean everything (diagnosis, s/s, labs, tests/exams, interventions.) I developed this habit from my cousin, who also graduated from the same nursing school I did. She would make these cheat sheets and took them everywhere she went. 

For an empty cheat sheet template, click here!!!

 I usually just write my cheat sheets, but I decided to type one for you. I use bullet points to make everything much more visible and organized.

I usually just write my cheat sheets, but I decided to type one for you. I use bullet points to make everything much more visible and organized.

3. Join study groups, but make time to study by yourself...

Everybody in my nursing program recommended to make time for study groups. With study groups, you'll be able to see what others know and know what you need to work on. You'll be surprised at what information you can learn from others that you totally missed from studying on your own. However, this doesn't work out all the time.

You can see success with study groups depending on the people who you study with and how much they know. Some study groups can get off track by talking about other things that don't pertain to your study session. Some people come in to the study group knowing the minimum amount of information, therefore can contribute only what they know. And if the content is not fully understood, study group members can confuse each other the wrong information.

Really pay attention to who you study with. While study groups can be helpful, make time to study on your own. Studying on your own keeps you focused on the information and your rationales. If you have questions about something, you can always call someone or ask your professor the next day during lecture time.

4. Practice questions! Practice, practice, practice!

I'm sure you already know that nursing exams are so different than what you're used to. Medical diagnoses can be so similar to each other in terms of s/s that you can confuse them during the exam. So it is sooooooo important for you to practice questions in order to get comfortable with them. Along with practicing, you'll be able to come across rationales and further understand the disease process.

Here are some of the success books I used for Q&As!

By Beth Richardson PhD RN CPNP FAANP
By Kathryn Colgrove, Ray Huttel
By Margot R. De Sevo PhD LCCE IBCLC RNC
By Patricia M. Nugent RN MA MS EdD, Barbara A. Vitale RN MA

5. Take breaks and some time for other hobbies...

Remember to take of yourself and make some time for your hobbies in between studying. I remember learning in my Human Anatomy class that the human brain can only retain 45 minutes of information and be stored into long term memory. Beyond 45 minutes will only be stored as short term, therefore will be useless when you try to reinforce information. (I have no evidence for this fun fact! I learned this years ago!)

For me, I loved to play with my planners and my journals in between studying. Playing with art and crafting as little as 15 minutes allows me to break off from the books and retain information better once I start studying again.

In conclusion, develop your own study habits and conquer your nursing program...

While some of you may find my article helpful, some may not and may still need to develop their own study habits. There is nothing wrong with that all! Find what works better for you and please comment below so that others may incorporate your ideas as well. Most students find a study habit that works for them after the first or second exam per semester.

Hopefully you guys enjoyed this 5 tips I have written up for you today! If you have any questions at all, feel free to leave a comment or email me directly. Otherwise, you guys have a great day today with more happy days to come! Happy Nursing!


Nursing School: Must-Haves For Clinicals

Nursing programs have different requirements for clinical rotations. Depending on your semester, clinical rotations can differ in specialty and require you to do a various set of nursing skills. Regardless of which unit your clinical semester will be, the necessities are still the same. I have provided you a list of must have books, tools, and so much more to make your day or night at your clinical rotation a lot easier. 

Buy Links to your everyday clinical needs now available to be bought through the links on the right!


Basic everyday needs for clinical:

  • A pen with different colors (BIC)

Instead of carrying several, different colored pens, you can just be carrying one pen. The different colors are useful to make special notes pop out from your assessment sheet, such as allergies, specific events, etc.

  • Extra pens and pencils

You should always carry extra pens and pencils for emergency purposes. It is really easy to lose your stuff at the hospital.

  • Stethoscope [!!!]

This is a deal breaker for most professors. You should always have a stethoscope ready for clinical. If you forget your stethoscope, they can send you home and put you down for a clinical absence.

  • Perfect fit scrubs and comfortable shoes

If your school requires you to wear a uniform, try to wear your scrubs fit, but yet loose, meaning you should be able to breathe and be comfortable in your scrubs. Remember that nursing is not a fashion show and that showing your figure is not professional.

Comfortable shoes are so important. Try to find comfortable shoes because you’ll be on your feet probably the whole time. Most professors don’t like to see their students sitting down so it would be nice to have those shoes that have gel or soft sole cushions inside. Some people recommend using Ted stockings, but this can be a hit or miss. Some of my peers swear that these stockings helps with leg and calf pain, but there are some, including me, who find the stockings uncomfortable. They were cutting of my leg circulation, but they're really cheap so why not give it a try to see if it works for you.

  • A small pocket notebook

This small notebook is just for notes. It’s really good to write down what you learned especially when it’s something new. This is good way to reinforce learning.

  • Nursing blunt scissors

This may not seem important now as you're reading this, but you’ll be surprised. Scissors are used to cut clothes for immediate assessments (usually see this down in ER or new admissions), cut gauze and tape for dressing changes, and so much more.

  • Penlight

This is a requirement for clinical assessments, such as pupils, wounds, etc.

  • Clinical pocket medication book

There are various medication books out there that organizes content differently and vary in size as well. I use a pocket size medication book that has the most commonly used medications. It’s so small that it can fit any pocket I have, however, it does not contain every medication. After using it at the hospital where I work, I came across one or two medications that was not listed in the book.

  • Clinical pocket book according to specialty

You should have a clinical pocket book according to the floor where you work. For instance, if your semester is at a medical surgical unit, you should have the clinical pocket book for that subject. They also have books for the psychiatric and obstetric unit.

For medical surgical unit here’s what I used. 

For obstetric unit, here’s what I used. 

I did not purchase one for the psychiatric floor because my rotation for that unit was more community-based, meaning I visited rehabs and other facilities where acute psychiatric intervention was not necessary. However, I did have my lecture notes handy if I needed it during this rotation.

  • Clipboard with calculator (can separate the two)

I personally just had a clipboard and a small calculator handy. This worked very well for me. However, I did come cross some of my peers who used a big clipboard that opens up to store their papers inside. On the top of the clipboard is a small calculator. I never purchased one because it didn’t really bother me if they were separate but for those who are new to clinicals, this can be very handy to you. I also came across a clipboard that folds in half, and when folded, you can put it in side your pocket. Depending on your scrubs, this may not fit if you wear your scrubs too tight. (Note: I do believe that your scrubs should be tailored to your shape but you should not wear your scrubs so tight that you aren’t able to move. Scrubs should fit nice, but yet loose so that you are comfortable while working.)

  • Blank patient assessment sheets

Your professor may give you one to use or they might be okay with you using your own. For my clinical semesters, I’ve used my own assessment sheet and I usually just transfer the data over to the sheet that the professors wanted. You can even make you own!

  • Nursing Diagnosis Book for care plans

This is very useful to have especially when you have to develop nursing care plans for every patient you have.

  • Study note cards from lecture

If you’re one of those students who uses flash cards or study sheets for lecture, bring them to clinical and put it on your clipboard. When there’s downtime on the floor and you have done everything you could do for your patients, you can study for lecture for a little bit. It’s also good to refer to if you don’t have you clinical pocket book.

Hope you guys find this article useful when starting your clinicals for the semester. Please feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions or if you have any suggestions for new nursing students as well :). Happy Nursing!!

How To Get Organized For Nursing School

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Some things to think about when going into nursing school is how to get yourself organized. Whether this is your first or your last semester in nursing school, you know how crazy our schedules can get so it is really important for you to get organized and stay on top of things. Hey, lets get started!

Let's talk about how get organized for LECTURE and CLINICAL! And then we can discuss how to get organized for both. Please be mindful that anything tips suggested are just advice. People learn in so many different ways and if one suggestion doesn't work for you, don't force yourself to do it. :)

LECTURE:

1. Get a big binder! This binder will hold everything for lecture.

  • I use dividers to divide my binder into how many exams we have in the whole class. For e.g., if our lecture will have 4 exams for the whole lecture, I'll have 4 dividers in the binder.

  • Within each divider, I will have all the topics in it for each exam and use small sticky notes to divide the topics. For e.g., if the first exam is on fluid and electrolytes, cardiac, and GI issues, then I'll divide each topic with a sticky note.

  • I place a folder inside to hold papers such as case studies and articles only related to the exam that we're studying for. After we're done with that exam, I take out those papers and place those in another folder to use as a reference later. This allows me to store more papers that are relevant to the next exam.

  • I add my lecture schedule to the very first page in order for to constantly be up to date with what's going on with lecture. I usually protect the lecture schedule with a sheet protector.

  • Last but not least, I also add blank sheets of paper in the back of the binder just in case.

2. Get a small composition notebook! 

This can just be used to jot down quick notes. 

3. Get pens, highlighters, sticky notes, and page flags!

  • I use all different kinds pen! Make it colorful! You'll actually like to read over your notes when it's more colorful rather than having it all dull and boring.

  • Use highlighters to highlight the important stuff. Some professors will repeat themselves more than once, and if he or she does that.. then more than likely that that's something to remember soooo... highlight it!

  • Use sticky notes to write down side notes.

  • Use page flags to remember to look over that page or topic.

4. Get a bag that's only dedicated to your lecture class. 

This prevents you from clumping up lecture and clinical into one bag. Combining the two can cause major confusion. :/

5. (Optional) Bring a laptop or iPad. 

I say this is optional because now a days we can use our phone to access anything anyway. Unless you're the type of person that never forgets to print out your presentation slides or lecture notes, you may want to consider bringing in some type of gadget that will allow you to access your notes just in case you forget to bring it in for lecture. You'll be surprised at how many times you come in to lecture thinking you're all prepared, but then the professor asks you to take out the case study that you were supposed to have printed out before coming in to class and you never printed it. Usually sharing with another person is no problem but sometimes it's best to have your own copy.

CLINICAL:

1. Get a 0.5-1 inch binder for clinical. 

This binder will hold everything for clinical. Use a folder to hold blank patient assessment sheets and another folder to store the completed sheets to keep track of what you've done throughout your clinical semester. NOTE: PLEASE BLACK OUT PATIENT NAMES ON ANY ASSESSMENT SHEET! THIS IS A VIOLATION OF HIPAA! YOU CAN GET KICKED OUT OF THE PROGRAM IF YOU GET CAUGHT LEAVING THE FACILITY WITH ANY PATIENT'S NAME ON ANY OF YOUR PAPERS.

  • Depending on the how much you have to to get done for every clinical will determine how many folders you should have in your binder. For eg. If I need to get a patient assessment and a nursing care plan for every clinical day, I'll have two folders: one holding several blank copies of a patient assessment sheet and another blank nursing care plan sheets. You should always have several copies just in case you mess up, you'll always have one handy.

2. Get a clipboard. 

Usually I like to prepare my clipboard in the morning and clip a blank patient assessment sheet and everything else that is due for that clinical day. That way you're all ready to go on with clinical.

3. Get a small calculator. 

Very useful when calculating doses for meds.

4. Have a clinical drug book, nursing diagnosis book, and whatever pocket clinical companion book of whatever specialty you're in. 

If you're in med-surg, have a clinical book ready for that. If you're OB or Pediatrics, have a clinical book for that. Note: Don't bring your text book...they're too big. Clinical books are smaller with the same context. Some nursing book companies make books and a clinical book so that the context are consistent between the two.

5. Get a bag just for clinical. 

Put everything for clinical only in this bag.

 

Both LECTURE and Clinical:

1. Plan your Semester with your Erin Condren. 

It's good to have a planner that shows everything for both lecture and clinical. This tip really helps with time management. You should know when things are due and exam dates. Not only will this planner have your school plans, but you should also jot down your social life as well. I know with nursing school, you'll feel like you won't have any time for anything, but it'll be nice to still keep track of what's going in your life.

 My Erin Condren Life Planner!

My Erin Condren Life Planner!

 2. Always have pens, pencils and a calculator handy! 

Welp! There you go! You're all ready set to go! Hopefully some of you guys found this article to be helpful. If you guys have questions or comments, please feel free to leave comments below. Go out there and be great nurses! 

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What to Expect With Nursing School: A Full Breakdown of Nursing School For First Semester Students

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Let me start off this article telling you a quick story about my journey. Nursing school has been a real struggle for me. I am currently in my last semester of nursing school and I couldn't be any happier to be almost done. My journey has been filled with ups and downs, but it's very rewarding to have gotten to this one last class. Thus far, I have completed Fundamentals, Medical-surgal I and II, Psychiatric, and Obstetric/Pediatrics.

It has been quite a journey for me. Nursing is definitely difficult, but it does have its rewards. Before starting nursing school, there were a lot of things I wish I would've known before the program and during the program. By all means, all nursing programs are different so I will try to base my answers not specific to my school.

Concepts to accept about the nursing program:

  1. Nursing is NO JOKE!   Nursing has a lot of content. Content will vary depending on which specialty you're learning. You will be going over all of the specialties in different semesters depending on your program. These will include: Fundamentals of Nursing, Medical-Surgical Nursing (may require 1 or 2 semesters), Psychiatric Nursing, and Obstetric/Pediatric Nursing. Some programs (I've heard through word-of-mouth) are set-up differently, in which some may require you to take Pharmacology and Pathophysiology. I'll list the quick details about each class below.
  2. Nursing will take up your time.  Since nursing requires you to learn a lot of content, it is possible that nursing may take up majority your time. This may be controversial since some students have that magical ability to juggle work during nursing school and still manage to have a social life. Some students even have families and still manage to complete nursing school. Don't get let down by this fact, but just know that you will need to set aside time for nursing.
  3. Nursing will take up your money.  Nursing classes, books, scrubs, and other necessities can be very costly. Get all the scholarship grants and awards you can get.
  4. Nursing will take up your energy.  Nursing will not only take up energy for your lecture and theory classes, but it will also require you to meet a certain amount of clinical hours per semester. You can look at clinicals just like volunteer work for the facility while learning the Registered Nurse (RN) roles. Depending on the program, you'll be required to pass medications under the supervision of your clinical instructor while also tending to the needs of the patient who is under your care. This is why nursing students drink LOTS of coffee! Starbucks will be your best friend for the rest of your life.
  5. Nursing will require you to have a lot of support.  I think this is one of the most important factors to understand. Every nursing student needs to go into the program with great support from family and friends. Your loved ones should be understanding in the fact that you're currently in this phase in your life that requires you to put all your focus into school. In other words, your family and friends should be more than understanding whenever you pass up a social events for study time. Sometimes this is not the case and your loved ones will find you to be dismissive. But it's important to address this matter ahead of time and explain that you will need a lot of support as you make your future career a priority at this moment.

Things to know before the program:

  1. Nursing exams are different from what you're used to.  Let me just say that I was one of those students who excelled in every class. But I wish I would've known that nursing exams were different. When I say 'different', I mean that nursing exam questions are not designed to be concrete. You're probably used to exam questions to have one answer. Nursing exam questions require you to know your content and know how to apply that information into patient scenarios. For example... a typical Human Anatomy Exam Question will be: "The pituitary gland secretes what kinds of hormones?".. then you pick A, B, C, or D and only one can be right. BUT a Nursing Exam Question may look like this: "The nurse walks into a patient's room to find the patient's trash can on fire and the patient is sitting on the chair across the room. What is the nurse's best action at this time? A. Pull the fire alarm B. Remove the patient from the room C. Pull the fire alarm and get the fire extinguisher. D. Confine the fire by closing all the doors and windows." All of these answers look correct, right? But if you've learned the content about RACE (Remove the patient from the area, Alarm the sound, Confine the fire by closing all the doors and windows, and Extinguish/Evacuate) you would be able to direct to the right answer, which is B. I'll let this whole paragraph sink in for a moment. LOL!
  2. Nursing may require you to buy extra books outside the program.  There are students who are naturally gifted and do very well throughout nursing school. But there are some who need a little bit more help. There are books out there available that are made to make learning the content easier. For example, Nursing Made Incredibly Easy books are available for any specialty. There are also Success books available for questions and answers to practice before exams. Some students find the pocket books for clinical very convenient during clinical hours. I've provided you with pictures below so that you know what they look like if you're interested in buying them.

Helpful Key Points:

  1. Develop a good study habit. This key point deserves a whole article itself. There's a lot of ways for you to develop a good study habit depending on your schedule or program. Make it a habit to study the content before going into lecture so that you're ahead of your theory lectures. Practice nursing questions related to exam content every day if possible. Study with a group if that helps you in any way.
  2. Cutting your work hours. I know this may be hard for some of you, especially for those who are financially paying for school, your family, etc. However, statistics have shown that working full-time during nursing school greatly affects your grade. Most employers are quite supportive of school so cutting your work hours may be a good option for you.
  3. Have two bags: one for school and one for clinical.  This is just a way to get organized.
  4. Take care of yourself. It's hard to stay healthy during the nursing program especially under all the stress with exams and clinical. Remember to stay hydrated and eat the right foods. It's easy to gain weight during this time.

Hope some of you found this article helpful. If you'd like for me to write about specific topics about nursing, please feel free to comment below and I would be happy to do that for you. And please.. if you have any tips and tricks to add for those coming into nursing as well, feel free to comment that below as well. Let us help each other! Have a good one! :)

By Dominique Louise