10 Things You’ll Learn on Nursing Clinical Placement

Written by Monica Guha, Bachelor of Nursing student at UTS

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Your first day of university was probably the mostexciting and nerve-racking day of your adult life so far… that is until you startyour first day of nursing clinical! Everything you have learned in the lecture hallsand the tutorial rooms are now going to be used to benefit real people, notthose scary mannequins in your lab rooms.

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Clinical placement will come and go but there are definitely pointers thatus nursing students will keep throughout our degree and well into our careers. So I’ve compiled a list for you and I’m sure you can all relate
when the time comes!

1. Clinical
Nurse Educators are your best friends

If there is anything in a clinical setting that I
am most thankful for as an undergrad student it’s CNE’s. I feel like these
people just ooze information and are always happy to clarify any questions you
have and to show you whatever you need. I was blessed with a great CNE on my
last placement and after 40 attempts at an intramuscular injection (on a
sponge), I have the process down pat.

2. Get
used to that smell

Whether its urine or faeces, at some point you’re
just going to have to get used to that smell. I’m sure you will become
well acquainted with it if you’re ever placed on that
gastrointestinal ward.

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3. Embrace
every learning option you have

On some days there will be nothing to do except
obs and showers, but on other days it is complete chaos! Chase up your patients
and your buddy nurses because they can expose you to the most interesting,
educational experiences of your life!

4. The
importance of your five rights and three checks 

Check once, check twice and check a third time
that what you’re giving a patient is the right thing! I once had to do it FOUR
times because my thoughts were elsewhere. When you do this process a hundred
times on clinical you will learn to appreciate the nurses who have 10+ patients
to do morning medications for!

5. Empathy

The most important trait you can have as a nurse
is empathy. When on your clinical you will see an array of patients and you
will also see why they are in this particular facility. One thing that makes
you a brilliant nurse is being empathetic and opening yourself to feel the way
that the patient feels. You are the person they will confide in and the person
they trust and therefore you must join them at their level to gain some insight
and understanding of their situation. And let me tell you, every patient is
different.

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6. MIMS is
your saviour

When you go out on clinical (mostly in second
year), you will be asked many questions about medications and dosages (not just
the doctors responsibility any more) and it’s up to you to come up with the
correct answer. Don’t be alarmed! Every good nurse who is unsure about a
certain medication refers to their MIMS. You want to know what you’re giving to
your patient and why? Does it correlate with their medical history? Is that the
recommended dosage and if not why? Question yourself, question the order. Mistakes
are made when you just follow the herd.

7. Hand hygiene

The concept of hand hygiene and proper hand washing techniques are
all good in theory (you would think so, that is the first thing they teach you
in nursing), but we are all guilty of forgetting to wash our hands. How many times do you eat
food and think, ‘I don’t NEED to wash my hands I’ll be fine’, and
most of the time you are but after you have experienced your first
illness/disease outbreak on clinical… you will be showering in that hand soap
and water! My fourth clinical of second year undergrad nursing and
there was an outbreak of gastro in the ward. I was literally washing my hands
every 5 minutes and sanitising my hands like there was no tomorrow. You even
feel dirty in the clothes your wearing but thankfully I survived that two week
placement and why? All because of this beautiful thing called proper hand
hygiene.

8. Breaks.

Some days the work load can be full on, even as a
student taking on your own patients so remember to catch a break, eat some fuel
and recharge that body and brain of yours! We need to be on the ball all the
time so take advantage of those breaks when you can.

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Take breaks… just maybe not on the beds

9. What career you want

Lastly and hopefully you will learn where you
want to end up in the nursing world or have an idea for the future when you
want to switch specialties. I have been on plenty of placements and right
now my focus is on peri-operative/medical surgical nursing. Nursing is a career
with many different avenues and hopefully your clinical will contribute to you
finding the perfect one!

10. Nursing
is the most rewarding job in the world
.

If your clinical placements don’t make you
realise just how rewarding this profession is, I don’t know what will! Helping
people when they are most vulnerable and when they need your help the most
is so extremely satisfying.

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