Clinicals usually take place at a hospital in your area. You’ll usually be with a group of other nursing students.
Once you arrive, you will have a meet-up, then each student will be assigned to shadow a nurse that works on the unit. Throughout that time, your instructor will check on you, get status updates, and observe how you’re doing.
When clinicals start out, you won’t be allowed to do much, and you’ll be very much under your instructor’s wing. Just take your time to get used to everything.
There’s no pressure to try to show off skills, know everything there is to know, or be a really good nurse. You’re here to learn, so just do that!
Getting a good grade
How you get your grade in clinicals depends on your school, but it usually boils down to how much you participate, your confidence level, and your instructor’s overall impression of how you’re doing.
The rule of thumb is: have a good attitude. Get along with others (even if they’re not being especially friendly.) If you don’t know something, that’s okay! Say so, and be ready to listen.
If you have a chance to practice a skill in front of your instructor, make sure you have prepared (we’ll cover that in the next section).
Practice your clinical skills with classmates
While having a good attitude, being proactive, and working well with others is essential, getting a good grade also comes down to how well you demonstrate skills.
Use your school’s lab! Set up times to go with your classmates and practice those skills. Your teachers will usually recommend how many hours you should be spending at labs.
Follow those recommendations! Try to think of skills that you’ll likely come across in your clinical unit, then make sure you can do them very well.
Even though it’s tempting to have fun and socialize at lab, be focused! You can set up a time to hang out afterwards.
Make connections for future jobs
Clinicals are a great way to make connections. Get to know and talk to your preceptors (people you shadow). Don’t be afraid to talk to managers or unit directors.
You don’t have to sell yourself too much. Feel free introduce yourself and thank them for having you on the unit. You’ll make a good impression.
If you’re comfortable, you can even ask whether they’re hiring now or in the future. Tell them a little about your career plans.
Managers are really on the lookout for great team members!