You’re at clinical practice, your patient is situated, and you don’t know what to do with yourself. You know you need to look like you’re doing or learning something. We’ve all been there in our nursing journey. That stuff happens. You do definitely get some downtime in clinical education. So let’s talk about some activities for nursing students in clinicals so you can make the most of your downtime.
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Interactive Activities for Nursing Students in Clinicals
Following are some growth and development activities for nursing students. These evidence-based active learning strategies are very useful for nursing students. Let’s dive in.
Utilize the Chart
Reviewing the patient’s chart is a great activity during downtime. Some things to review are:
- What medications are they on?
- What kind of history do they have?
I like to do one thing when I have a patient who’s been admitted. I like to go back and see how did they come into the hospital? What exactly did them getting to the emergency department look like? Why are they on certain medications?
You could also go into the order log history and see all the different orders that have been for this patient and discontinued.
- And ask yourself, why did they get TPA?
You can also work on completing your care plan during those downtimes. Let’s say I have stared at this chart all shift. I can’t do this anymore. What else could I do?
Offer to Help the CNA
You can offer to help the CNA if there’s a CNA on the unit.
- Can I know when you’re getting ready to do vitals?
- Do you want me to go around with you and help you?
Not only will your CNA love that, but you also get some more practice with taking vitals and charting. Go into the room with them, and you can chart the vitals while they get the vitals or vice versa. Frame it in a way where you can get some more practice and repetition.
Do you mind if I go with you on your vitals or do your vitals? Framing it that way instead of, do you need help with your vitals? Because often they’re going to say, they don’t need help.
If you kind of frame it in a way where this would actually be beneficial for me to learn from you, and have some more practice, they are usually all about having some help.
Check Rooms on the Unit
Another thing you could do is you could let the CNA or the staff nurse know that you are going to go around the unit and check rooms and see if you can clear out trays, document the intake and output.
- Ask if it would be okay
Go into every room to see if there are any old trays from a different meal and document whatever percentage of the food they ate, how much they drank. Putting that in the chart will give you some more learning experience.
Make sure to tidy up the room a little bit, which will really help people out. Always ask for permission because sometimes the nurse really wants to make sure they chart or see what they’ve eaten, but a lot of times, it is really helpful for another set of hands to go in and clear that stuff out.
You could also just go through and tidy rooms. Don’t necessarily get out the trays, you could just go through and throw some trash away, take out the dirty linen.
Depending upon where you are in your schooling, you could also ask your nurse or other nurses if you could pull meds for them. That means getting medications out of the medication dispensing machine, usually called a Pyxis.
You then give the meds to the nurse. You’re not giving the meds to the patient, but you’re pulling everything out that that nurse needs and bringing it to them. It’ll give you practice in the medication dispensing machine.
Another thing you could do is stock personal care items to go into the supply room and take notice of what’s in there and what may be missing.
If you’re looking for something to do to help make things easier for people, stocking items can be really helpful and it fills your downtime.
Help With Changes and Bed Baths
If you notice a CNA is going in to do bed baths or change patients, you can offer to help. Frame it with:
- I want to get some more clinical experience with this.
- Would you mind if I helped you with that?
Walk With Patients
Finally, you can always see if any patients need to go on walks. A lot of patients have orders to ambulate. Offer to walk other patients if you know they need to walk. Then let the CNA or other nurses know that you are caught up and any patients need to go for a walk you can do that. It’ll get you used to holding the foley, the IV pump, and all other devices.
Walking can be one of those tasks that fall when things get hectic. Walking can become low priority when the nurses are focused on giving medications and other emergency situations.
You can also offer to help with hygiene things. When things get busy, the lowest priority situation is hygiene tasks such as, teeth brushed, hair washed, that kind of thing, especially if you’re really still getting comfortable being around patients.
The more you can lean into these care items, it really does help you get more comfortable in that clinical environment.
These are some different things that you can find ways to make yourself useful during a shift when you find that you’ve been caught up with your patients.
Video for Activities for Nursing Students in Clinicals:
Nursing students can do many clinical activities during their clinical learning time to make themselves more valuable. These include stocking items, helping with bed baths and changes, walking with patients, and helping with hygiene tasks.
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Nursing students should ask around to see what tasks need to be done and offer to help out. By pitching in, nursing students will gain valuable experience in clinical training and make the workday more efficient for everyone.
What Does a Student Nurse Do in Clinicals?
Generally, students can expect to be involved in taking patient histories, vital signs, charting, medication administration, and actual performance of nursing skills like wound care and bathing under the supervision of a licensed nurse.
Students will often have the opportunity to participate in interdisciplinary rounding with the health care team and attend educational lectures given by doctors or nursing educators.
The overall goal of clinical rotations is to expose students to as many aspects of nursing care as possible to develop well-rounded skillsets and gain confidence in their abilities before transitioning to registered nurse status.
How Do I Do Well in Nursing Clinicals?
You can do well in nursing clinicials by following these tips:
- Arrive on time and be prepared
- Dress professionally and neatly
- Be aware of your body language and attitude
- Respect your clinical instructor’s authority
- Pay close attention during lectures and lab sessions
- Actively participate in group activities
- Take good notes and ask questions when needed
- Stay organized and efficient in your work habits
- Practice proper hand hygiene at all times
- Being positive and having positive thinking helps to do good in your clinical performance.
How Hard Are Nursing Clinicals?
Nursing clinical definitely have their challenging situations, but overall they are a great way to get hands-on experience in the field.
One of the most complex parts can be getting used to being on your feet for long periods. There are some mental health and physically demanding aspects to nursing, but it is so advantageous to be able to help people and provide patient care in their most vulnerable moments that it is all worth it.
And at the end of a long day, nothing feels better than knowing you made a difference in someone’s life.
How Do I Become Confident in Nursing Clinicals?
Confidence is vital in nursing clinical. Here are a few tips to help you build your confidence:
1. Get plenty of rest and eat a balanced diet. You need to be at your best when you’re working with patients.
2. Arrive early for your shifts and take the time to review the patient’s chart. This will help you feel prepared when you meet them.
3. Be assertive and communicate effectively with nurses, doctors, and other qualified nurses.
4. Stay calm under pressure, deep breathing helps at this moment. And don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.
5. Take pride in your work and remember that you’re providing essential care to patients who need it.
Building confidence in nursing clinical will take time, but by following these tips, you’ll become a confident and competent nurse.
What Challenges Do Student Nurses Face?
Student nurses face various challenges, ranging from the demands of their studies to the pressures of working in a hospital setting.
Time management is often a key challenge, as student nurses must juggle academic commitments with clinical placement.
Finding a good work-life balance can also be tricky, especially when working shifts. Other common challenges include dealing with difficult or uncooperative patients, coping with personal stress and burnout, and managing important relationships with classmates, teachers, and patients.
Despite all these challenges, nursing is a gratifying profession that offers its practitioners the chance to make a real difference in people’s lives. There can be great satisfaction in meeting and overcoming difficulties for student nurses who are up for the challenge.
What Are the Different Types of Nursing Clinical Rotations?
There are many different types of clinical nursing rotations, each with its own set of challenges and rewards.
Some common rotation types include medical-surgical, pediatrics, labor and delivery, intensive care unit (ICU), emergency room (ER), and operating room (OR).
Each rotation provides opportunities to develop different clinical skills and knowledge, and all are important in preparing students for the demands of registered nurse (RN) status.
Whatever type of clinical nursing rotation you find yourself in, remember to stay positive, work hard, and be confident in your abilities. You’ll be a great nurse in no time!