Make the most of your clinicals by being inquisitive, persistent and brave




When you are a nursing student, clinical experiences often can be difficult. Many of us feel nervous, timid or out of place on the unit. Some of us are negative even before we step foot on the unit, because we don’t like the hospital placement or we’ve heard about the unreceptive staff.

Looking back at my last 3 1/2 years of nursing school, I have realized that I could have gotten a lot more out of my clinicals if I hadn’t felt so nervous or negative. Certainly, there are some nurses who think we are in the way and do not particularly like having us on the unit, but there also are nurses who love to teach. If we are willing to ask questions and try to find those nurses, we can get more out of our clinical experiences.

Finally, in my last rotation in the ICU, I have realized there are so many opportunities and so many procedures to observe. I have learned that if we are inquisitive and a little persistent, it will make our clinical experiences so much better. Here are tips on how to make the most of your clinical experience.

Go in with a positive attitude

As one of my wise professors once told me, “You catch more bees with honey then you do with vinegar.” Being kind and helpful will get you a lot further than acting cranky because you had to wake up at 5 a.m. to get to clinicals on time. The staff and, more importantly, the patients will appreciate your warm and welcoming attitude.

Do not be discouraged by the not-so-friendly staff members

We have to remember that everyone has a bad day and some people just do not love what they do. Don’t take it to heart. Help them if you can and, if you cannot, then go about doing what you are there to do and make the most of your experience.

Do not hesitate to ask questions

Don’t be embarrassed if you don’t know something. We can’t grow to our full potential if we don’t ask questions. The staff knows we do not learn everything in nursing school. Be honest with yourself. You will get so much more out of your experience.

Lend a hand on the unit when you’re needed

The pace on some clinical days may be slow, so let the staff know you have time to help. They may look for interesting things for you to do. Be a team player now and in the future when you get your first job.

Do not be afraid to ask if you can perform a task that you feel comfortable performing

As long as you are allowed to perform a task and feel confident enough to do so, go for it. Of course, you should always ask your clinical professor first. The worst thing your professor or a nurse can say is “No, not today.” And that’s fine. But if they say yes, then you get an extra opportunity to build your skills and knowledge.

I hope these tips help you to get more out of your clinical experience. I know that I would have if I knew back then what I know now.

Do you have any tips for having a successful clinical rotation? Share them below!

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About the author
Kristen Ponticelli

Kristen Ponticelli 

Kristen Ponticelli is a senior nursing student at Molloy College in New York. Her posts from a student nurse’s perspective will appear on Nurse.com the last Friday of each month. Write to Kristen by sending an email to blogs@nurse.com.

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