Your first clinical externship can be daunting, but it’s also exciting. You’re ready to get to work in the field, but it’s normal to feel a little nervous about working with real patients.
We asked former Herzing nursing student Shenese Stewart about her clinical experience and what other nursing students can do in order to be successful.
What did your clinical mean to you?
Clinical was important to me because it gave me the opportunity to put my classroom knowledge into "real life" practice. I was able to work with patients and had the opportunity to ask questions.
In your opinion, why is a clinical experience so important to your nursing career?
Clinical experience is important to your nursing career because you are able to explore different areas in the clinical setting. Many times, you find what you like and don't like in clinical and that helps you decide what types of positions you will apply for when you graduate. It also helps connect the dots between theory and practice. Reading about something and actually doing it can help solidify it in your mind.
Do you have any secret tips on how to survive clinical?
Clinical can be intimidating, but don't leave with unanswered questions. Learn your medications and labs. Know how to keep your patient safe and never assume anything. Always ask questions, especially if it’s something you need to know to stay safe.
How important was your cohort during your clinical?
I feel that your cohort in clinical, not class, can make or break you. Your clinical cohort is experiencing a lot of the same feelings that you are, and they can encourage you, motivate you and explain things to you sometimes in a way that your instructors cannot. Try not to be the lone wolf in clinical.
How important is your clinical instructor?
Your clinical instructor is an invaluable resource who guides you and helps pull it all together. Don't be scared to tell your clinical instructor what you don't know. You may lose points, but you'll know next time, and your instructor will know that they can trust you to be honest, which is critical in nursing.
Tell us about a time that you struggled during your clinical and how you overcame that struggle.
It took a lot of practice for me to learn about all the different medications, side effects and drug classes. I was in a LPN clinical and was giving medications to a patient with my instructor. The patient asked me what Lisinopril was for and I told her it was for cholesterol (it’s actually for blood pressure). Not only did I lose 10 points for the day, the patient laughed and said, "Stupid student, I knew I'd get you." The lesson for me was to never treat any student in a disrespectful way – regardless of what profession they are preparing for – and to learn everything there is to know about Lisinopril!
Tell us a great memory about your clinical.
My best memories from clinical were when I felt that accomplishment of completion, when the light bulb went off in my head and I saw the big picture. You just connect bits and pieces until one day it all just makes sense.
* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2021. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.