One of the biggest questions I get asked from students staring nursing school is, “What do I really need for clinicals in nursing school?” Sure, there are lots of fun stuff that you can load up on, but what do you REALLY need? Well, I have been teaching clinicals a few years and here’s my must have top 10 list for nursing school supplies and for your career beyond!
Hi all! Hope your summer has gone well! It has been a fun and busy one for me, especially since I had a clinical group for a super fast summer session. Clinicals can be tough enough on a good day, but for my fundamentals nursing students, summer session is like learning via a fire hose!
As we head back into the fall session and the stress level starts to amp up again, I thought I would share some self-care tips for nursing students. Although you may have heard a few of them in the past, really take them in and consider, “how is your self-care routine?” Students are notorious for not taking care of themselves and I think this is amplified in nursing students. People entering the nursing profession tend to seek to put others first and demonstrate a high level of care to others, often at the expense of themselves.
So, here’s my tips for taking care of yourself while in nursing school and after graduation too!
When I got out of nursing school, like many, I felt pretty prepared. I knew I still had a lot to learn, but with my drug book in hand and a few other little pocket books, I was ready to go. I read up on things, learned about new drugs, tackled ACLS and overcame my fears one day at a time. But, what I was grossly unprepared for was the art of nursing. Sure, school taught me how to calculate medications, do assessments and manage diseases – all the science stuff. But what it didn’t prepare me for was the sadness I would encounter, the deaths I would see and toll this would take on me. I hadn’t tapped into the art of nursing while I was conquering the science of nursing.
Ok… I have a confession to make. I have been a nurse for over 16+ years and have never worn compression stockings or nurse socks. Nope, not even through my pregnancies when everyone warned me that my legs would look like old oak trees from all the varicose veins I would acquire. You see, I hate socks and shoes. If I could go to work in flip flops – all would be perfect in the world. So, the thought of tight, ugly socks on my legs for over 12 hours gave me tachycardia. Like a stubborn nurse, I took the risk.
Well, the other day, I was starting to notice some some bad, ugly stuff showing up on my tired old legs. I started to realize, I think I should have worn those ugly compression socks… the oak trees are starting to sprout! I also had noticed my legs were swelling more at the end of my long shifts. Ok, being the good nurse that I am, I finally started to heed my own advice! The quest began…
Being a nursing student is tough work – all those hours of studying, dedication and hard work….and that’s even before you get accepted to your program! But that hard work continues as nursing school trudges on and each semester presents it’s challenges. But sometimes, we just have to laugh. It is the best medicine right?
So as the semester comes to a close for most, I couldn’t help but think about my poor, tired and weary students who are counting the minutes to winter break! I came across a funny little video about things nursing students NEVER say and I thought about what my list would look like….
When I was a new nurse working in the hospital, I quickly learned who one of my best allies was – the respiratory therapist! As I moved into the ICU, they were invaluable as we weaned patients from the vent and rescued them from death. My second ICU job was at a large metropolitan teaching hospital in NYC. I was working nights in the NeuroSurgical ICU and almost fainted when during my orientation, I was informed that there really was no RT support at night. In fact, the nurses did the vent checks, blood gases, retaping ET tubes (this is where I learned NO pink tape!) and even the weaning and extubation! Say what!! I was grateful for the great RT’s that trained me – I would have been so lost without their valuable insight and knowledge that they instilled in me (and I am pretty sure the patients are thankful also… I still remember my first extubation – not pretty!) Lessons learned and I truly discovered the value of the RT on my team during my shift when I moved on to another hospital.
So, you could say, I had a new found respect for the masters of the lungs, wizards of the vents and providers of smoke pipes! But, one thing in my journey as a nurse I have discovered, they find us pretty annoying…. and rightly so! I often come across nurses who lack respect for their discipline and yet want them to rescue their patient they have let go down the tubes. So what do they wish we knew about them? What do respiratory therapists wish nurses would understand? Well, I asked one of them and here is what he said….
You come on to your shift as a nurse and you find out a nursing student is assigned to one or some of your patients. Now what…?
So a few weeks ago I wrote a little piece on how nursing students could better manage a challenging nurse they had been assigned for the day. (You can read it here!) Wow – did I hit a chord with folks! I literally had over a thousand views over the course of three days. (For perspective – that was more views for my humble blog since its inceptions! Thanks for all the love!) It went crazy pseudo-viral on Pinterest and beyond. I am beyond humbled that my message resonated with so many. It really got me thinking of how sad that so many students are struggling with this same problem – nurses not being so friendly to them during clinicals. My first instinct was frustration as I LOVE my students and enjoy being with them – I can’t understand why no one else does?? But, then I got to thinking a bit more about the situation, I couldn’t help but think about all the nurses who seem kind of lost with the students they are assigned for the day. Well, this ones’ for you!! Here are my humble tips for nurses to help nursing students!
Most nurses would admit it is hard to have to float to a new unit, especially one you have never been to before. Imagine being a student on top of that! I try to keep my students on the same floor at least a few weeks, but I also want them to experience as much a possible during my short time with them. My group of students this quarter have been at the same hospital for the past few quarters, but are now starting to explore new units with those skills under their belts! Taking it up a notch! It got me to thinking, what do you need to find on each floor to have smooth and successful day? So here’s a quick list to try to ease some of the stress of spending the day on a new floor!
Five Things to Find Immediately When on a New Nursing Floor
1. Where is the bathroom?
Let’s just cut to the chase – you know you are going to have to go eventually – might as well locate it now! The last thing you need is to be searching when its an true personal emergency. Make sure you know where it is – you WILL need it eventually! Plus, you might learn something, this is where all the educational material is posted!
2. Where is the code cart?
Again, this is not something you want to be frantically searching for in a time of need! It should be easily found – file it away in your head. It’s one of those things – if you know where it is, you may not need it?? We could hope – for you AND your patients – you won’t need it. (But, if you are like most students, you probably want that experience!)
3. Where is the nutrition room?
According to Maslow’s hierarchy, someone, likely your patient, will need to eat or drink. Take quick inventory of what is available on that particular floor. I was fortunate for may years, we shared our nutrition room with the Pedi ICU – we had great stuff to offer! Maybe you’ll get lucky.
4. Where is the clean and dirty room?
Hopefully between these two rooms, you will have found most things to get you through the day. The key – try not to get them confused – that could be awkward! Again, take note, what is in each room – is the linen here or on a random cart in the hallway. Where do they keep their bags? They are like gold in some hospitals – find the special stash or make friends quickly with the environmental staff – they have everything!
5. Where is the medication and supply room?
Take inventory of what is actually in the medication room – do they have all the supplies you will need or is it all stored in a separate supply room? Open the cupboards and drawers. I floated a lot as a traveler, and the staff was always amazed at how I know where they hid random things – I was VERY nosy, but I knew where everything was! The supply room, if it is a separate room, can be particularly challenging. It seems each hospital has their own “logical” way of organizing everything. Unfortunately, their logic never matched mine and I just had to remember where things were located. Take special note of common care items – IV start supplies, tape, dressing supplies, etc.
Hopefully, this will give you a place to get acclimated to each floor you visit! Make the best of it – be helpful and you will be amazed at how much you will learn if you are just willing! Good luck, take care & don’t get lost!