5 Ways to Get the Most Out of Clinical Rotations
Hollis Forester, RNC-NP
School is starting again. It’s back to the books, the studying, the commuting, and, maybe this year you are adding more clinical work to your schedule. It will take a lot of time out of your life and you may be anxious about it, but here are five big pluses to completing those clinical rotations and some pointers on getting the most out of them.
In a study published in the Journal of Nursing Education this month, the article entitled, “Practicum and Clinical Experiences: Postpracticum Students’ Views”, by Ralph, Walker and Wimmer, students review how they felt after their practical experiences. The article lead me to some interesting thoughts on how you can make your experience more valuable:
1. The Mentor is Your Friend.
The mentor or supervisor you work with will have an important influence on how you view your experience in the clinical rotation. Remember that you will not always have mentors that become your best friend or even that you will see eye-to-eye with all the time. However, it is important to learn to value every one’s contribution to patient care. If you have issues with your mentor, share them with him/her or alert your educational supervisor so you can achieve a resolution and get the most from your experience.
2. You Get to Practice.
This is the setting where you are able to put what you learn from books into practice. There will not always be occasions when you feel you are being used to the maximum, but watch what goes on around you. If you have been given an administrative task, but there is something else happening, complete your task (of course) but listen in, think what you might do in the situation, maybe offer to help your fellow student at confer with them. This is the opportunity for you to remember what you have learned and put it to work in the clinical care of patients, exciting stuff!
3. The Team.
Get to know the staff of the facility where you are working. Help them when you can. Take this opportunity, not only to practice injections and catheter insertions, but also to learn and practice how to function in a multi-disciplinary team. The spirit of working as a team is an important concept to master before entering the world of healthcare. I personally think in the future, this concept will be even more important. The medicine of tomorrow will demand we work with a much less territorial attitude and a much more global and inclusive approach to providing care for our patients.
4. More Than One Mentor?
Sometimes it is the case that your mentor in the clinical setting is sick, or that there are things you need to learn that someone else will be better able to show you. It is difficult to function with more than one supervisor, however, remember, every person has strengths and every person has the potential to educate you in a particular way. Take advantage of a situation you may think is difficult by listening to each of these voices separately and willingly.
Use this time to improve your self-confidence, not only in the area of practice of applying your book knowledge to the physical care of your patient, but also to the area of relationship with the healthcare team members, your mentors and your supervisors. This will more fully prepare you for the real world of medicine.