Nurses gather in front of the White House to demand PPE from the President, Congress and other government entities + honor fallen nurses who succumb to COVID-19.
The Covid-19 pandemic underscores the urgent need to strengthen the global health workforce. A new report, The State of the World’s Nursing 2020, provides an in-depth look at the largest component of the health workforce. Learn more about these findings on our blog!
Countless nurses on the front lines have been infected and several have died in service due to the lack of PPE, below standard working conditions and impossible patient surges. With such conditions, a resounding fear amongst providers has been their own mortality and the financial impact it may their families- amid other concerns. This fear has kept some away from the frontline and is definitely a large stressor to those who are working tirelessly.
If you’ve started clinical, Congrats! Getting your clinical start means you’re progressing through your labs and courses successfully. This is an exciting time begin exploring the different facets and specialties in nursing and apply some real hands-on skills. Additionally, clinical also allows a better feel for what area of nursing best resonates with you and where you might be interested in working in the near future. But make no mistake, getting to this point is just the beginning.
Check out these proven tips below on how to get a guaranteed “pass” at clinical.
1. Eat a Good Breakfast & Bring Snacks
If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it twice. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and proper nutrition will play a major role in your clinical success. Research shows that your brain uses about 20% of your body’s energy or about 320 calories for thinking alone! That said store up on energy with a well rounded breakfast that will fuel you adequately into your next meal. Unfortunately, clinical don’t lend themselves to frequent breaks and require a ton of standing on your feet.
2. Be On Time
First impressions really are everything and consistency is key. This is not the time to forget to set the alarm or be tardy. The aforementioned behaviors can leave a negative impression on your clinical instructor, disrupts the flow of the group and can cause you to get a clinical failure. That said, you want your first and ongoing encounters to be positive ones. Arrive promptly at your clinical site each and every time.
3. Get Adequate Rest
Long shifts are hard but they can be brutal for new comers who aren’t used to typical healthcare hours. Clinical can often last anywhere from 6 to 12 hours but generally last around the latter. Getting to bed early the night before clinical is a great way to get a head start on your big day and will help ensure you show up alert, well rested and energized for the day.
4. Come Prepared & Be Pop Quiz Ready
If you’ve not yet started clinical you’ve probably heard that your instructor may likely put you on the spot with what seems like random questions about your patients, medications and anything else they think you should know. If your lucky you’ll be allowed to visit the unit prior to clinical to gather all pertinent patient info ahead of time. If not, be sure to bring your assessment book, pocket sized drug guides, resources and apps for quick references when you have down time.
5. Phone & Social Media Etiquette
Although mobile phones have become a huge part of our lives, it goes without saying that clinical is not the place to be on it and could be the cause of a clinical failure. Be sure to turn your phone on silent or consider leaving it in your car or assigned area with your belongings. If you have to be on standby for a potential emergency call, discuss this with your instructor up front. If a call must be taken, leave from direct patient settings to do so. HIPAA is real. Think twice before sharing content from the hospital setting. Also remember, geotagging your images and using hospital hashtags will make it easy for the hospital’s marketing team to identify you.
6. All Clinical Sites Aren’t Created Equal- Be Open Minded
Every clinical setting will be different. Location, patient population, resources and access to care amongst other things can play a role in your clinical experience. Some facilities may lack amenities while others appear cush and pristine. Additionally, the type of facility your clinical is at may drive the things you’re able to see and do. For example, teaching and academic institutions are geared towards educating health professionals and tend to have more observation and learning opportunities. Regardless of the site, remember to show kindness, cultural competence and professionalism at all times.
7. Advocate for Your Own learning
The hard truth is that you may not see half of what you’ve learned in class or lab while at clinical. However, when opportunities present themselves for additional learning or observation jump at the chance. Depending on the facility and unit size, chances such as this may be far and few in between. Don’t be shy- reversely if there are things you’d like to see, don’t hesitate to mention it to your instructor or nurse as they are aware of the patients on the floor and can help facilitate your request if possible.
8. Be Ethical
If for some reason you find yourself in a situation where you feel there may possibly be a chance you’ve done something that could harm a patient, be sure to speak up. No one is perfect and there is no shame in admitting a mistake. Further, don’t let fear or embarrassment stop you from doing the right thing. Keep in mind the patient’s safety is the top priority. Reversely, If you see a fellow classmate doing something wrong that could harm a patient don’t hesitate to speak up and advocate for the patient’s safety.
9. Treat Each Day of Clinical as a Potential Job Interview
If you fall in love with a unit during clinical be sure to do everything in your power to stand out to the leadership team. Introduce yourself to the supervisors and build report with the nurses. Go a step further and put yourself out there by asking questions, going the extra mile for your patients and showing your genuine interest in the unit. This can most definitely lead to you landing your preferred senior practicum placement and even more, can help you land your dream job.
10. Don’t Take it Personal
Clinical can come with an array of ups and downs. Some patients will refuse students while others welcome them with open arms. Some nurses will take you under their wing and others might not. You may get your clinical site preference or your luck of the draw may land you at your last choice. If for some reason don’t mesh well with your clinical instructor try setting up a time to meet with them one on one. If there’s no resolve after that, its probably a good idea to speak with your counselor or instructor at school so that they are aware sooner than later. Above all, don’t take it personal and focus on what you can control. Do your best and approach each day with a new perspective.
Looking for more ways to be prepared? Here’s some additional helpful resources to help you succeed in your nursing career:
From the time I began my nursing career, I knew that I would work in Geriatrics. When expressing this to many of my friends, colleagues and even professors I received the astounding response “Why?”. Many nurses I meet have a goal of working in Pediatrics or OB so that they can be a part of the innocence and beauty associated with childhood, but many view geriatrics as the unglamorous world of bedpans and adult briefs! When I am tasked with answering the questioning of my field choice I immediately begin expressing how I possess a deeply rooted passion for the geriatric population that sometimes can’t be explained by words
As a child, I was raised by my Great Grandmother. The generational gap between us presented many problems and I probably wasn’t participating in some of the same after school and weekend activities as my peers. My great grandmother is a true saint spent most of her time visiting nursing homes to volunteer and visit her family members and friends that were in facilities. During this time I had the opportunity to volunteer as well. Although I was a small child, I connected with the residents in the homes we visited and they took to me and enjoyed my weekly visits. I can truly say that this experience led me to where I am now. As my great grandmother grew older I eventually had to move with my mom and I then found myself visiting my grandmother to take care of her. Just as she had dedicated her life to helping others I found that I became passionate about caring for her. Up until her recent death I vowed to make her golden years her best years.
Today I am proud to say that I have dedicated most of my nursing career to geriatrics. Right out of high school I became a Certified Nursing Assistant and worked in a nursing home as well as a Geriatric Psychiatry Unit. After graduating from nursing school my professors advised me to spend at least one year in the Emergency Department so that I can gain skills to prepare me for my Geriatric career. I literally completed one year and then began working in the Home Health setting where my clients were all 65 and older. I enjoyed educating seniors about chronic conditions and each visit felt like a visit to Grandmas! Recently, I completed my Masters and became an Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner (NP). I currently work in a long term care facility in the specialty of Geriatric Psychiatry. I provide medication management of psychotropic drugs to the residents there. I also educate the staff in the facility on non-pharmacological methods for handling conditions such as dementia. I work tirelessly to ensure that the facility is in compliance with current Medicare Guidelines and prepare them for visits with state agencies. Not a moment goes by that I don’t feel like I am walking in my purpose!
Geriatrics is a field that often is forgotten and I must say I do not see how! I find my job to be very rewarding and I often feel connected to the patients I serve. The benefits of working with this population are vast. There is a true need for those passionate about working with this very vulnerable population. There is always an opportunity to teach these patients, but what is most rewarding is that they often teach you! I find that my patients are at a place in there lives where they may require assistance with care, but their wisdom simply amazes me.
The American Association of Nurse Practitioners reports that, “there are more than 270,000 nurse practitioners (NPs) licensed in the U.S., however, only 1.8% of those providers are certified in Geriatrics (2018 AANP National Nurse Practitioner Sample Survey).
These figures are very alarming considering that, “one in 5 Americans will be eligible for Medicare by 2030, with people 65 and older expected to account for almost 20 percent of the nation’s population by then” (Magaly Olivero, 2015). Equipped with this information, I feel that there is a need to access the reasons that providers do not choose Geriatrics. Wether it is related to a lack of knowledge about the field that is not being addressed in nursing programs or a fear of the field that also needs to be addressed through clinical rotations or patient experience opportunities, we as providers owe it to these individuals to address the need.
As with any field, you have to find the area that most interests you, but I encourage anyone that finds geriatrics the least bit interesting to investigate a career in the field! If you are looking for something that is challenging and structured this is a great fit. The field is mostly preventative and if you are like me and love the aspect of preventing health conditions you will find yourself constantly educating, patients, staff and family members and working to connect your patients with the many resources available to them. Another bonus is that you can work in a variety of settings including hospitals, home health, long term care facilities, assisted living, nonprofit organizations and so on. There is currently a huge demand for geriatric providers and I can guarantee that working in the field will not only be a career reward but also a personal one that will inspire the values of humility and advocacy.
Breonna Leon is a Geriatric Nurse Practitioner in the Atlanta Area who currently serves as a consultant for long term care facilities in the specialty of Geriatric Psychiatry. She holds a M.S. in Adult-Gerontology Primary Care from George Washington University. Breonnabelieves in providing care that is both patient focused and in accordance with the most recent evidence based practice. She works tirelessly to ensure that this vulnerable population is cared for in ways that are holistic in nature. You can find Breonna on Instagram and reach her via email