Nursing Degrees & Schools / Nursing School Clinicals
Clinicals are an essential part of nursing school. Your time spent in the hospital setting as a nursing student is incredibly valuable. It’s your first chance to gain experience in your future work setting.
The experience you have at your clinicals really is what you make of it and you want to take steps to get the most out of this time. This article will cover what to expect from your nursing school clinicals including what they are, what they entail, and how to prepare.
This article will cover:
- What are clinicals?
- What do nursing clinicals entail?
- Acing your clinicals
- Nursing School Clinical FAQs
- Final tips and Conclusion
What are clinicals?
Clinicals are 1 of the 3 required segments of nursing school, with the other 2 being didactic and simulation labs.
Didactics are your classroom lectures. Simulations involve patient simulation in which you act outpatient care. Clinicals involve gaining hands-on experience in the hospital setting.
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What do nursing clinicals entail?
Usually, for nursing school clinicals you’ll be broken up into smaller groups of classmates. Then, you’ll all be assigned to different hospitals in your area.
You’ll have a designated day or 2 per week when you’ll spend the day at the hospital in addition to your typical classes.
You’ll show up early in the morning at the hospital and find your classmates and instructor. Your clinical instructor may be one of your teachers who you’ve already met, or it may be a new instructor who specifically teaches clinicals. Either way, it will be an experienced professional with a background in nursing and education.
You will likely start the day on the hospital floor shadowing a nurse. You should also get some opportunities to get hands-on experience with certain tasks during your clinicals, like starting IVs, performing blood draws, and inserting foley catheters.
You’ll be given a lunch break where you’ll meet back up with your instructor and classmates. During this time, you can check in with each other and talk about what you’ve seen/done for the day.
After lunch, you’ll head back to the unit to finish out the day. At the end of the day, you may have a post-clinical conference with your classmates and instructor where you go over what you’ve learned and have a discussion about the day.
Nursing students are allowed to complete the tasks of CNAs, even if they don’t have a CNA certification. This means you can check a patient’s vital signs, help with patient hygiene, and even check blood sugars with minimal supervision.
Acing your clinicals
Clincals are a graded part of your nursing school coursework, so it’s important to do your best.
To do well in clinicals, you need to show up on time, and put your best foot forward throughout the day.
Preparing the night before by getting to bed early and packing your lunch ahead of time are great ways to ensure that you show up on time to your clinicals. Remember, it is so important to take care of yourself throughout nursing school. By making sure that you’re not burnt out and over-extended, you can show up as your best self for clinicals.
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How are clinicals graded?
Every nursing school will have its own way of grading nursing school clinicals. However, there are 3 factors that are guaranteed to be heavily graded, which are your attendance, participation, and homework assignments.
Attendance is incredibly important, as, clinicals are not optional. So, this makes them a big part of your grade. This means you don’t get to skip clinicals just because you’re tired and missed your alarm.
You should only ever miss a clinical if you have a really good reason (such as a medical issue or having a family emergency). If you miss a clinical, you’ll likely have to make it up by coming to the hospital an extra day.
Most clinicals start early in the morning, so most nursing students feel tired at clinicals. But it’s a good idea to you should try your hardest to make a positive first impression by being attentive and staying focused.
By actively participating and doing your assigned tasks, you will get the most out of your clinical experience, and retain what you’ve learned well. Another benefit of being an active participant is you will be a lot more confident going through the rest of nursing school with the knowledge you’ve gained during your clincals!
Your clinical instructor may assign some homework assignments to go along with your clinical days. Typical homework assignments from clinicals may bestudying certain medications and presenting information about them to your clinical group during a post-clinical meeting.
You may also be assigned a patient whose chart you’ll look at. Your goal will be to study their condition and treatment in depth.
Generally, the goal of clinicals is to get nursing students comfortable with the hospital setting and all that it entails. So, your homework will center around the nursing process (assessment, diagnosis, plan, intervention, and evaluation).
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What not to do
There are plenty of steps you can take to ace your clinicals, but there are also things you should not do in order to do well in your clinicals:
- Never show up late to a clinical. Think of it as a rehearsal for when you’re trying to work at the hospital –you want to make a good impression.
- Never skip a clinical for any reason.
- Don’t envy your classmates if they get to go to a floor you wanted to see or you don’t like your assignment. It’s likely you won’t get the assignment you were hoping for. It’s important to maintain a positive attitude and appreciate the hands-on experience you are receiving, regardless of your assignment.
- Never take home papers that have patient information on them.
- Don’t use your clinical time as an opportunity to study for a test or complete homework for another course.
- Don’t sit around at your clinicals. If you feel like there isn’t anything for you to do, walk around the unit and ask the other nurses if they need help with anything.
Nursing School Clinical FAQs
Nursing school clinicals take place in a clinical setting, such as a hospital or nursing home. You’ll rotate hospitals and observe different specialties throughout the time you’re in nursing school.
Most nursing school programs require 120-140 clinical hours to be completed per semester. Nursing school clinicals will typically range from 5-8 hours per day.
Final tips and Conclusion
Preparing for clinicals is nothing short of exciting. You’re getting ready to have your first hospital experience as a nurse-in-training. Make sure to get a good night’s sleep the night before and get all of your things ready ahead of time. Pack a good lunch and plenty of snacks and water so that you can stay hydrated, fed, and focused.
Give your clinicals everything you’ve got because they are a very important part of your nursing school training.