Just thinking about new clinical rotations used to give me stomach aches. Quivering, trembling, stomach aches that made me want to cower in the corner. Would my clinical site be safe? Scary? Clean? Dirty? Would my mentor be nice to me? Or would they be like the stories I’ve heard and try to eat their young? There are a million reasons to be afraid of your clinical rotation, but they aren’t reasons to zone out and push through the semester with your eyes closed.
Once you get to your new floor, you’ll find that things move pretty fast. Your mentor, whether they’re patient or demanding, has around six patients, hundreds of tasks to complete, and somehow you’ve got to keep up the pace. It’s during these critical moments, when your nurse preceptor is requiring your input and attentive care, that you might be tempted to freeze, give up, and just fake it. I know, I’ve been there.
When things start getting scary and you’ve got someone else to lean on, it’s simple to play along and let them get through their day with a smile on your face. But “Fake it till you make it,” isn’t just a bad choice to make during your clinical rotations, it’s an irresponsible one that will come back to bite you.
Here’s the deal: Soon, you won’t be in nursing school anymore, and you won’t have a preceptor to fall back on. You’ll have six patients of your own, and it will fall on you to provide them with safe, effective care. Fail to learn the tricks of the trade before entering the craft and you’ll find yourself regretful and unsure of how to manage your time and perform the basic skills expected of you. So how do you cope when things get tough during your clinical rotation?
Stay mindful. Take each day second by second, minute by minute. Ask your preceptor about anything you don’t fully understand and write down all those little tips and tricks they offer you. Time management may be the most difficult part of nursing, so ask your mentor how they keep track of their time and tasks. Experiment with what works for you and never leave the house without a clipboard, pen, and paper. Oh, and always carry extra alcohol wipes and flushes in your pocket. That’s the real way to impress your mentor!
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