What to Expect in Clinical Rotations

As a future registered nurse, it’s important to gain meaningful, true-to-life experiences in each of your clinical rotations while in nursing school.
Whether it’s your first day, or you are a seasoned nursing student, clinical rotations can be overwhelming. Here are some concepts to keep in mind as you mentally and physically prepare for your first rotation of clinical experience.

Adios, Modesty

When you begin your clinical rotations on the floor, it will typically be in a long-term care facility, like a nursing home, though this will vary among nursing programs across the board.
Patient modesty is something that can be overcome fairly quickly with your patients—especially with older people. Most have been in a medical setting for some time and are used to thorough examinations. Many will have little to no problem cooperating, and, yes, you will get used to catching every odor that drifts your way.
It’s part of your clinical experience, so embrace it. Learn from it. Your desire to make your patients feel comfortable will likely overshadow any discomforts you may be experiencing.

Hello, Time Management

Time management can be a real life-saver throughout your nursing clinical experience. During your clinical rotations, you will generally be in a facility anywhere from five to eight hours a day, once a week. Again, this may vary depending on what nursing program you are in, and if it’s a day vs night program.
During this time, you will learn the significance of managing your time to successfully complete patient care such as taking vital signs, bathing, feeding, ambulating, medicating, and assessing. You will likely be assigned to one patient, which is great because you can really focus on applying all the skills you acquired in nursing school to a single, real-life scenario.

In clinical rotations, the more the merrier

By this point in your nursing school career, you probably know about the importance of teamwork. Registered nurses must work collaboratively with other registered nurses, LPNs, CNAs, and other healthcare professionals to provide the best possible care for their patients.
During your clinical rotations, you may want to try partnering up with one of your fellow nursing school classmates so you can stay on time with certain duties, especially assessing, ambulating, or bathing your patients. You will learn a lot by observing your peers’ personal styles of patient care, as well.
Coming to understand and embrace these three key points from clinical experience will put you well on your way to becoming a successful RN with your BSN.

How to Survive Nursing School Clinicals

What do you expect clinical to be like? Stressful, crazy, exciting? In the beginning, nursing school can be scary and you don’t know what to expect. After a while, though, you begin to thrive off the adrenaline rush and want to experience more and more. A fellow nursing student, Kelsey Furia from SUNY shares some tips on how to make clinicals a more enjoyable and survivable experience.
  • Buddy System

    Rule number one to surviving clinical: make friends. I never would have made it through without them. For example, the first time we did a medication pass, everyone forgot to identify their patient—a huge no-no in nursing school. My friends had warned me about this ahead of time, so I was one of the few who didn’t make that mistake. Messing up while in nursing school isn’t the end of the world, but knowing how high the stakes are of this profession will prevent you from making the same mistake twice. When one of your instructors says you did something wrong, it’s like a parent saying, “I’m not mad, I’m disappointed.” It’s not a feeling you’ll want to experience very often.

  • Practice, Practice, and Succeed!

    There’s always that one intimating teacher that everyone’s scared to have. As luck would have it, I got that teacher—as if clinical isn’t stressful enough! Her glaring eyes alone were enough to make you consider a different profession. Every time she did a blood pressure with me using a dual stethoscope, I’d mess it up. Any other time without her, I’d get it—no problem. So I took my nursing pal to the lab so I could practice over and over. I pumped her arms up so many times she nearly passed out on me. What are friends for? Since I had my nursing buddy, I mastered this skill quickly and eventually overcame my performance anxiety. The power of friendship to the rescue, once again!

  • Share the Load

    Not everything in nursing school will be easy. In fact, most of it is always difficult at first—especially when you get to clinicals. That’s why a nursing buddy can really come in handy and lighten your load. For instance, when I was trying to get a urinalysis from a patient in one of my clinicals, I had to recall all the supplies I needed before starting the procedure. My patient voided at an unplanned moment, and I was elbows deep in bodily fluids without all the necessary supplies. Voila! Buddy to the rescue. Then you can handle anything other surprises that happens because you’re in it together. It’s a never ending process of unexpected events, which is why friends are the key to surviving clinical—both on practical and emotional levels.