“You had your clinical placement where?” is a common question I received during my first semester of nursing school.
It may sound odd to some that the first clinical assignments for Sophomores 1 take place in local schools, but I found this clinical experience to be an excellent transition into my nursing educational career.
Seven Sophomore 1 students and I were placed at a local elementary school for four hours a week. Our instructor was a nurse with an extensive background in community and school health, who was an invaluable asset and very clearly appreciated by the faculty and staff at the elementary school.
Every day at clinical, our group would have a pre-conference to discuss the day’s agenda and then a post-conference to discuss if we had achieved our goals for the day.
We had many opportunities to advance health promotion in our clinical setting. For example, we were able to practice taking blood pressures on faculty and staff at our school. This alone afforded us many teaching opportunities.
Another example, I discussed nutrition, weight loss, and asthma care with faculty whose blood pressure I assessed. I was able to teach different positions I had learned from my health assessment lecture and lab to a staff member who suffered from severe asthma, in hopes of finding a holistic way to relieve their symptoms. I never thought that I would have that kind of experience in my first semester of nursing school.
Other clinical tasks included taking a comprehensive health history, completing a head-to-toe physical assessment and creating a care plan for students at our school. This major assignment was a culmination of all of the skills we have been taught this first semester, and it was great to be able to put this knowledge into practice!
Our instructor illustrated how every project or task we completed reflected the steps of the nursing process, which is the foundation of our practice as future nurses.
Last, I was very fortunate to have an amazing clinical instructor. She was a knowledgable resource of information, always had a kind word or inspiring quote to impart, and wanted to make sure that we were truly learning. She brought in muffins for my fellow clinical student’s birthday and always made an effort to relate to us, and not criticize or patronize us as I feared before clinicals started.
Though we may have not had a hospital or assisted living facility for our first clinical placement, the elementary school was a solid foundation for our nursing education. I was very fortunate to have such a warm, engaging instructor and close-knit clinical group. I feel confident that with all the skills and opportunities we have had so far, the Sophomores 1 will do well in assisted living facilities next semester.