How to Prep for Clinicals

My great grandma Ada turned 97 today. Happy birthday to the lefse queen!


It’s been a busy week! I had my first test on Monday, clinical on Tuesday and Wednesday, and class and clinical paperwork to complete on Thursday. Needless to say, I spent the majority of today watching Gilmore Girls reruns and trying not let me eyes shut for too long.

I have accomplished a lot and have faced a number of challenges in my first three weeks of clinical. I inserted my first Foley, called a rapid response, suctioned a few trachs, and gave meds through every route imaginable.

With so much going on, I needed to go into each day with a game plan. This is how I manage my time before, during, and after clinical:

1. I try to complete the readings and assignments for class before my clinical. I have class on Mondays and Thursdays and clinical on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. There is hardly any time on Tuesday or Wednesday to read for Thursday’s class because I am busy with clinical and the massive amount of paperwork it involves. So, completing the readings on Sunday or Monday is really helpful.

2. I print all of the clinical paperwork for the entire rotation during the first week. We have 5 weeks of clinical, so I printed 5 weeks of paperwork and organized it so I could just grab and go on clinical day.

3. Michael Linares’ (Simple Nursing) “Most Common Meds Guide” and “Patho Bible” have been enormously helpful in completing my paperwork and knowing what my patient is dealing with before I even enter the room. In order to access these documents, you need to pay $34.99 for a “cancel anytime month-to-month” subscription. With this subscription, I have access to 17 PDFs and 900+ videos. My recommendation:  Save the 17 PDFs to your computer, skip the videos, and cancel after one month. Many of his videos are on YouTube or the content is explained elsewhere on YouTube and other websites.

4. During my prep time at the hospital, I get my patient’s info as fast as possible. I check the important stuff first just in case I get hung up on something. Important data includes:  code status, allergies, reason for admittance, other active diagnoses (look them up if unfamiliar), recent labs, MD orders (unfortunately, I do not have access to these at my clinical site), and current medications.

5. My clinical instructor has us write out the top three things that could go wrong with our patient during our shift based on the data we collected. Even if your instructor doesn’t make you do this, I think it would be a great thing to start doing. It’ll give you an idea of what to focus on and look for in your patient.

6. I try to go into my patient’s room with confidence. The initial assessment is crucial. It guides you in the direction you should take during the rest of the day. Be thorough, build trust, and be kind! You’ll do great!

7. When my first patient’s blood pressure was low and she stopped responding to me, I knew it was time to call in my nurse. If something doesn’t seem right with your patient (even if it is a little change in status), do not hesitate to call for help. It might be nothing, but wouldn’t you rather it be nothing and feel stupid than it be something and you didn’t tell anyone?

8. Find a way to relax after clinical. Take a bath, have a beer, watch reruns of your favorite non-medical TV show, …whatever floats your boat!

Clinical can be rough, so please share your tips on making it go as smoothly as possible!