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How to Prepare for Nursing Clinicals

After everything you’ve been through during the academic preparation in your nursing education – listening to your professor’s long lecture hours, exhausting demonstrations in the simulation laboratories and passing all the possible examinations there is, you are now ready to face the real challenge: the clinicals.

Like a real soldier preparing to face a battle, your instincts tell you that this is what you’ve been preparing all the time. The clinicals is another world for you to take care of a real patient with real medical problems and you will be performing real nursing care to them.

With all the theories you’ve learned (and memorized), clinicals will be just a walk in the park. So you think. This article will guide you through this initial phase of clinical preparations.


nursing clinicalsIt’s Not What It Seems

Myra made it a point to score high on tests in the lecture courses during nursing school. But to her surprise, she failed to show the ability to apply what she learned to her actual patients in the hospital.

Student nurses are very much engrossed on textbook discussions that at times they forget to apply the concepts to their real patients. Theory-wise, you’re already there. But the problem is how you are able to apply personalized care to the patient.

Remember that each patient is unique. It is just also saying that no two patients are alike. In nursing school, mastery of the fats is not enough. The facts that you learned in the classroom will serve as foundation to the actual care of patients.

They will help you recall the ideals and nature of the problem and offer possible solutions. However, when it comes to the real clinical scenario, there will be times that you will experience a different situation compared to the discussion that you had in the classroom.

Since not all patients are the same (even if they have the same medical diagnosis) your approach to patient care therefore, should always be tailored to the present needs and problems of the patient.

The Night Before the Clinicals

Preparation is the key to have a fulfilled clinical experience. The moment you know your patient assignment, never fail to review the case and take note of important facts.

What is the medical diagnosis of the patient? What system or body organ is involved?

Read about the patient’s medical diagnosis. You will benefit a lot in doing this because there are certain special considerations you need to attend to while taking care of a particular patient in which doctors sometimes failed to include in their notes. One example I’d like to cite is on isolation precautions.

Registered nurses are already seasoned in doing this. But as a novice to the nursing practice, student nurses are at a very high risk of contacting communicable and contagious diseases if they are not careful in handling bodily secretions and on how to take care of their patients.

This is exactly why you are studying anatomy and physiology in the first year of nursing school because it is imperative to know the normal functions first before the abnormal functions.

If you are able to distinguish the normal functioning of the organ or human system, it will not be very difficult to establish the reasons on why there are alterations or deviations from the normalcy.

What symptoms are you looking for in the patient?

After going through the system or organ affected, try to observe and examine the patient on the possible signs and symptoms that he/she is manifesting. Again, your facts will tell you of the varied clinical manifestations that a patient may present.

For the most part, what you’ve learned in textbook discussions pertaining to the signs and symptoms are correct and present in the patient. Your clinical skill in physical assessment will help you determine otherwise if the patient is indeed having a symptom or not.

What nursing care actions can you make for this patient?

Now that you have all the necessary data suggesting a nursing problem, you can now plan on different nursing measures to take to help solve the problem or alleviate a symptom.

What are the laboratories/diagnostics for the patient?

This particular concern is also a must know for student nurses. Doctors rely much on laboratory tests in order for them to make a plan of action Your guide here is to determine why this particular test is necessary to the patient’s condition, the normal values of the test, and the significance of the result. From there, you can realign the nursing care plan to the doctor’s orders based on the results of the tests.

What medications does the patient take?

Part of your job is to administer medications. So it is not only enough to know the drugs that the patient is currently taking, but it is also important to include your understanding on its side effects, complications, drug and food interactions, and other nursing considerations.

Evaluating Your Care

In the classroom discussions, you are given the general idea on the evaluative aspect of patient care. Whether the goals were met or not, there are examples for you to take into consideration. Use these as your guide.

Nonetheless, after performing all your stated nursing actions, a proper and correct way of evaluating the care is very crucial to determine if you have indeed attained your outcomes.

Practice Makes Perfect

Do not be discouraged if you have committed errors in the clinical setting. Just make sure that these errors are not life-threatening, though. If there are certain difficulties that you find overwhelming in the clinical setting, I suggest that you talk it out with your clinical instructor or preceptor.

They are the very best persons to consult in times like this. With their experience in the field, they can give you insights and possible solutions to your queries.

It does not take an overnight express to develop a nurse. So don’t panic that you have more things to study with very little time to use. True enough, but don’t sweat it out. With constant practice and continuing education, you will earn those prestigious initials after your name with much pride.