Tips for Working Successfully With Nursing Students

As a registered nurse practitioner, working with nursing students at some point is a given. Due to the fact that nursing is a practice based profession, clinical education is a critical stage in the careers of up and coming nurses. A successful experience will enable them to be competent, informed and encourage accountability and independence and this will largely be driven by the nurses who are already seasoned.

However, working with a student, especially for someone who has never done it before might turn out to be challenging and overwhelming. Becoming a teacher is also substantially different than the day to day job many registered nurses are used to, so preparation is key. Below are a couple of tips and tricks that can help make working with nursing students as streamlined and successful as possible. A student nurse can leverage management placement software to keep track of everything and stay on top of deadlines and tasks.

Draw from personal experience

Probably the best starting point is to recall how your own clinical placement was and reflect on what worked, what didn’t, what would have been great to know and be taught, and equally, the emotions that were involved. In To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus Finch’s famous line says ‘You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view […] until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.’, this is a valuable lesson when tutoring a nursing student. And the advantage is that as an already practicing nurse, you will be able to find multiple similarities in spite of the fact that everyone’s placement will be inherently different.

Build an open, positive environment from day one

Any nurse knows that communication, quality, safety, and accountability are the four most important priorities day in day out. Patients’ lives depend on their performance and approach and this comes with increased pressure and fear of making a mistake, especially when starting fresh. Students will have a myriad of questions and it’s not uncommon for many of them to be left unasked for fear of sounding less informed. Similarly, many nurses can find themselves at the opposite poll, not wanting to stifle the student’s confidence they avoid correcting mistakes, and while this comes from a good place, it is still detrimental. The most appropriate way is to establish from day one that communication is a two way street and that there are no such thing as stupid questions.

Equip students with the right tools to succeed

Having worked in the field for a number of years now, nurses know all the best practices and helpful shortcuts. This knowledge should be passed on to student nurses as much as possible. It may be advice on how to deliver bad news to a patient, or just simply admin related. Management placement is difficult and requires multi-tasking and keeping track of a number of records and paperwork – technology can help take the strain out of this.

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