“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.
The following advice on making the most of your clinical experience is primarily directed to NP students. However, some items are applicable to students in other clinical settings.
1. Expectations (in advance)
- If you have schedule limitations, be honest
- Inform the preceptor of hours required and verify their availability
- Provide the preceptor with a copy of your syllabus
- Set goals for yourself and review with your preceptor at midterm. For example:
* Minimum number of pap smears
* Managing patients with certain diagnoses
- Wear student identification
- Dress professionally: light make up, no perfume or chewing gum and only closed toe shoes
- Relax; don’t try too hard to impress
- Arrive early, if possible, and review medical records of scheduled patients.
- Be prepared to start on time
- Cancel only when appropriate (contagious illness, family death, etc.)
- Respect the preceptor’s need to do their job; don’t interrupt – wait for the to finish what they are doing
4. Preparation and Homework
- Ask what the top 3-5 diagnosis are at the site and research them
- If you encounter a rare diagnosis, research it and report back to your preceptor – they love to learn from you too!
- On slow days, ask to look at x-rays (normal and abnormals), typical lab presentations (thyroid, anemia, metabolic syndrome, etc.)
- Track patients whom you have seen – follow up on diagnostic findings, etc.
- If a patient refuses to see you; learn vicariously by discussing the case with your preceptor
- If you disagree, respectfully discuss your questions (not in front of the patient)
- Do not suggest potential diagnoses, diagnostics, treatments, or referrals with patient before discussing with your preceptor
- Do not call patients by their first name
7. Wrapping Up
- Demonstrate your appreciation to the staff with a thank you card – this cultivates a good environment for future students
- Ask your preceptor if you may use them as a reference; do not presume
This is my third time around as a student; each time has been equally challenging albeit different.
As an undergraduate student, I had to learn how to manage academic demands, live with new people in a small space, and take responsibility for mundane tasks such as paying bills and tracking my bank account balances. I had a lot of energy and dedicated long hours to studying. For the most part, the focus was on me and school.
In my master’s program, the demands of my family and home life were more substantial; I juggled care of my home and children with the educational requirements of graduate school. I was fortunate enough to have been able to take a break from work while attending graduate school. However, most of classmates successfully met the demands of school and family while continuing to work; it is doable.
With the DNP program, my primary concern was about keeping up with the rigors of academia as an older and less energetic student in light of other responsibilities such as a demanding job, wife, homeowner, and daughter of an elderly parent. I no longer have the time or energy to study for long hours as I did in my undergraduate and graduate programs. However, I have mastered the art of time management. I start large assignments early and work on them almost daily.
During my commute to work, I spend my time contemplating assignments. I use my periods of insomnia doing literature reviews, reading, and working on assignments. In a nutshell, I seize the moment. I can no longer rely on long periods of time to dedicate to school and now capitalize on spending the non-traditional study time that I have. The end result is that I efficiently use my time and my work is better thought out and I am less overwhelmed.
School and studying take up a very large part of a nursing student’s life, so how does a lengthy commute impact the student nurse’s daily life? This blog post will explore the benefits of commuting from home.
The Upside of Commuting
1) Though car repairs and the rising price of gas add up, they are not necessarily financially comparable to living away from home. Tens of thousands of dollars for dorm living or apartment rent that accumulate over three years make paying student loans off in the future an even more daunting task! Nursing students at orientation last November recommended commuting if the option was available and costs were a concern.
2) Working in a long-distance commute to an already-full schedule of school, work, and studying is not an easy feat. This can help improve your time management skills, which is a crucial element of nursing. The commute could also be a good time for replaying recorded lectures or taping yourself studying to replay to enhance learning and positive testing results.
3) Commuting allows students to expand our geography/directional skills. GPS devices can certainly be beneficial, but gathering an intuitive knowledge of the area over time is especially helpful.
4) While time spent idling in rush hours is tedious, it allows students the opportunity to mentally prepare for or wind down from our busy days. This is a great time to reflect and take a moment for yourself before transitioning to the next event in your daily schedule. Apparently, some commuters also enjoy spending the time belting out Spice Girls songs from their childhoods… not that I can speak from experience.
We all experience hearing something in a lecture that puzzles us, but when looking around, others do not seem to share our confusion. When this happens to me, I often assume I am the only one who does not ‘get’ it. To avoid possible embarrassment over my ignorance to what is apparently obvious to everyone else, I am tempted to simply figure it out for myself later.
In my 32 years as a RN and my 13 years as a nurse practitioner, I have done A LOT of patient teaching. I have also been a guest lecturer for OU’s nurse practitioner (NP) program and have regularly precepted NP students for many years.
From this perspective as a teacher, I know that one should always ask questions if they do not understand something; I have never been asked a question by a student or patient that seemed ignorant or irrelevant. To the contrary, the questions that I am asked help me understand how I can improve my explanations.
One would think that I would have readily applied this philosophy when I started the DNP program last fall, but I still find myself reluctant to ask for clarification. Invariably, someone else asks the very question that I did not. I am quickly learning to ignore my sense of pride and fire away with my questions. Perhaps this is to the dismay of my instructors after my fourth or fifth email in a day! However, I have only received patient explanations and apologies for the confusion. After all, if I knew it all, why would I be in the class?
When it comes to nursing school, you can’t get around the fact that studying will be a major part of the program. For me it is the top responsibility I have as a nursing student.
Studying is never something we want to do, but it is necessary to be successful in this program. When I started the program in Fall 2012, my mechanism of studying was to sit down and memorize as much information as I could in a limited period of time. Now, over three semesters later, I still use this strategy, but my discovery of a study group and the proper way to maximize our group sessions is the way I prefer to study.
Forming a study group is one of the best techniques to gain as much as you can from a study session. However, I have learned that a study group can be unproductive at times. Thus, I have reformed and refined the way that I study with a group.
First, your group should include classmates that have different strengths. For example, if one student excels in pathophysiology of disease processes, and another is exemplary in prioritizing nursing care, they can work together to maximize learning potential. Second, choose a location that is semi-private. Discussions can get loud with many ideas being shared, so a secluded place is preferred. Third, get everything ready for the study session before it officially begins. Making sure that everyone has their notes, books, snacks, and technology at the start allows the group session to go uninterrupted for the most part. Finally, stay on track! Always having someone to ensure that studying is on task will maximize the amount of material covered in the time that you have.
The reason why group study sessions work is because when you talk openly about a topic you are more likely to look at all aspects of the scenario. In nursing school this is a chief component to understanding care of the patient as a whole.
I know that the topics we examine as a group in depth are more easily recalled when in final preparation for an exam. Also, study groups make the studying more about learning as compared to cramming. Your group members will contribute different ways to remember formulas or nursing topics. A study group should maximize the resources available and allow for further understanding of the material. Plus, it is another way to become closer to your classmates!
If you haven’t formed a study group yet, I suggest you do!
Oakland University’s campus is alive with organizations that can appeal to every student on campus; however, many nursing students feel as though they can’t enjoy student organizations without it becoming a burden on their school work.
Well, I’d like to assure you that this doesn’t have to be an issue!
When I first started the program in Fall 2011, I was already a part of a sorority on campus and another student organization. I also had plans to join SNAOU and other clubs within the nursing community. I was so afraid that my grades would suffer that I cut back from one of the organizations that I really loved just so I could ensure school wouldn’t be sacrificed.
People around me gave me the impression that I couldn’t manage school and everything else I wanted to be a part of. However, I soon learned about other students that were actively involved on campus and decided to talk to them about how they juggle nursing school and clubs on campus.
I learned that every experience in nursing school is unique. If you can handle work, school, and student organizations then do it! Joining organizations on campus has only enriched my experience at OU and made me want to spend more time on campus. I would not let nursing school take me away from my sorority and the other organizations I am involved in. I especially love being a part of SNAOU and Dean’s Circle because these people understand that nursing school is a top priority.
I would encourage all nursing students to join an organization that would help make their experience at OU more exciting and enriching. Everyone can find a balance, and being active on campus is a great way to make friends!
In 1981, I graduated with my BSN with the vague intention that I would eventually return to school for my MSN.
Over the next 15 years, I was juggling my career with the demands of home and family. Eventually, I started graduate school when I was in my late 30s. While some in my cohort were my age, many were much younger. I felt relatively old and ill-equipped in comparison; I had minimal experience with computers and periodical indexes were rapidly being relegated to the dinosaur category (some of you have likely never seen or used a periodical index) and I hadn’t taken a test or written a paper in years.
Despite my reservations, I earned my MSN at the age of 42 and assumed that my formal education was complete. Fast forward a few years and I could hear the rumblings about the Doctor of Nurse Practice as eventually becoming the entry level degree for advanced practice nurses.
My initial reaction was that I would be grandfathered in and I certainly was too old to be a student again. However, a Dear Abby column that I had read many years ago was nagging at me. A woman wrote to Dear Abby that she wanted to be a lawyer, but she would be ‘such and such’ age before she finished law school (I cannot recall the specific age). Dear Abby responded, How old will you be if you don’t go to law school? Ultimately, I took Dear Abby’s advice and did not factor age into my decision about pursuing another degree. At nearly 55 years old, I started the DNP program at OU four months ago. In three years, I will be 58 whether or not I get my DNP and I plan to have no regrets.
My Sophomore 1 classmates and I have officially finished our first two weeks of nursing school!
The past fourteen days have been a whirlwind of syllabi and reading assignments, navigating the new Human Health Building and meeting fellow students from all walks and stages of life. In this blog entry, I will discuss my first impressions of the Traditional BSN program.
First, though the Sophomore 1 students are taking six or seven classes and labs, I have found that our school schedules allow for a larger amount of extra-curricular time than I expected. Personally, I have been able to complete all coursework, pursue leisure activities, go to the gym nearly every day, work 10 hours a week and get adequate sleep comfortably within the confines of my academic schedule. While the workload is ever-growing, I believe as long as I continue to manage my time and stay organized, I will be able to maintain a similar routine this semester.
Also, I am extremely impressed with our professors. They all seem incredibly understanding of our positions as first-semester nursing students, are supportive, and have made classes and labs engaging for me and my fellow students.
Last week, one of my professors had the class laughing for nearly the entire lecture, which is much more admirable when considering that lecture was two and a half hours long.
I appreciate that all of my professors are skilled nurses in a variety of disciplines. They provide us with practical examples and interesting anecdotes from their years of experience, which help us to apply our coursework to real-life situations.
Thus far, I am very much so enjoying my first semester of nursing school. I feel so lucky to be a part of this Sophomore 1 class and look forward to all the experiences that await us as the semester goes on.
These are words that I never imagined uttering: I like nursing theory! Who knew?
A nursing professor once said to me, nursing theory is typically the most-dreaded class. Admittedly, when considering Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree programs, I was tempted to choose a school that did not include nursing theory as part of the curriculum.
Despite the inclusion of theory, Oakland University’s curriculum appealed to me. Additionally, I have had a positive relationship with the SON as a preceptor, guest lecturer, and adjunct faculty while serving on the Nurse Practitioner Committee; I am familiar with the SON’s strong academic programs and faculty who care about the success of the students.
The positive aspects of attending OU undoubtedly outweighed the fact that I would have to take theory for yet a third time.
I had subscribed to the oft-held belief that nursing theory is the domain of cerebral academics in their ivory towers and had little to do with my very concrete, clinical world. I was mistaken.
Nursing theory has evolved since my first course in 1978. The abstract, grand theories from those days have lent themselves to the development of middle range theories that are more readily applicable to practice and research.
The OU DNP theory class was well-presented; assigned readings elucidated the practical application of theory and assignments cultivated our creativity. It was rewarding and actually fun to analyze concepts and develop middle-range theories. When I consider that some DNP programs do not include theory as part of their curriculum, I realize that the students of those programs are missing out on a vital course that can have a significant positive influence on their practice and the nursing profession.