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February Challenge
 This page was last updated on 15-Jun-02

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      The Student Nurse Challenge:
 February Challenge
he challenge topic for February, 2002 was "What is your best tip for staying organized in clinicals?"  All entrants were included in a random drawing to win a really neat ID Tag necklace from  These beautiful necklaces are a fashionable (and practical!) way to wear your ID tag during clinicals.  Thank you to Kris and all the wonderful folks at for this wonderful prize!

Congratulations to our February winner, Christine R. of Athens, GA!

Here are the entries we received:

From Tabitha C. of Niceville, FL:
Wow! This one is easy.. (the only easy thing about nursing school!) I have a couple of leather (or wanna-be leather) folders that have the legal pads inside them. They generally have a pocket on one side/pad of paper on the other. Put a clip (heavy duty) or slide a clipboard on one side to hold all of those forms with pertinent pt info on them.. and take your notes on the pad of paper. I call it my brain! I carry it everywhere I go.. Hope this helps!

From Cherrie G. of Richmond, IN:
Have copies of paperwork with you when you research clients prior to clinicals. You can just fill in the blanks as you go along.

From Connie of Portage, IN:
Well where do I start..hum....first I created little cheat sheets that I carry around with one for head to toe assesment..small enough to fit into my little notebook. I check diseases and illness according to the hospital floor in my disease book before hand to have a heads up. And ASK ASK ASK questions, most nurses I've run into love to share their knowledge and are a wealth of info for the students. Last of all follow your instincts and your heart....good luck to us all.

From Christine R. of Athens, GA:
The best hint for new nursing students starting clinical is to prepare really well the night before:
Be familiar with your client's condition, abnormal vital signs & patho behind the deviations, medications, and treatments.
Look up everything! Even if you've given the med before, you might find a significant side-effect.
Once you look everything up, plan out your interventions. Put together a worksheet with significant data about your client, and a schedule to keep your interventions and medication dosage times organized.
Prepare questions for your clinical instructor.
It takes a little time, but when you feel confident that you know your client before you arrive, the confidence carries out throughout the day. It also shows that you care enough about the client to gain a decent amount of knowledge.

From Katelin G. of Centereach, NY:
Going to clinicals in the hospital are the most stressful days out of the week. If there would be any thing that could actually prepare me for what I am to face when I get there, it would be a miracle.
I try and prepare for the day by reading over the guidelines of the unit I am going to be on. What I can and cannot do, and what kind of patient I am going to have there.
I read about how to take care of them and any other last minute preps before I go.
I always bring a small notebook to the clinical site and write down anything I observe and anything that needs to be written down. I usually write down report, and important info about my patient while I am taking care of them. I was always told that these books are your life if anything should happen to protect you.
I have all my things ready for the morning, including my uniform, books, lunch, and materials for assessment.
Going to the hospital for clinicals is not easy, especially when there are instructors down your back and family members watching you at all times. I try my best to prepare myself for what I am about to face.

From Julie R. of Cohoes, NY:
I keep an index cards (4 x 6) in the pocket of my shirt. When I take report I write the info on the cards, as well as meds, evaluations and treatments I have to do. I keep separate ones for each patient I work with.

From Jim D. of Townsend, MA:
Get a small notebook (one with a cloth or paper binder so it doesn''t get tangled in a uniform) that fits in a pocket. As you go through a tour of duty on the wards, in the ER, or elsewhere, make a quick checklist of patient needs as you see them. As these needs are addressed, cross them off the list. Use your list to highlight critical issues that may need to brought out at change of shift, or documented in the charts. Update the list during breaks and just before returning from meal breaks. Be careful not to use patient names (use room/bed numbers) so that privacy is protected should you take the notebook home without tearing out the old notes. This has to become a habit to work effectively.

From Michelle M. of Virginia Beach, VA:
I make an index card with my schedule for the day. I use the patients kardex or nursing worksheet as it is called in some places to make a schedule from beginning to end of clinical of when procedures, dressing changes, or meds are to be given. Then I know I have not missed a med or a tube feeding etc. I follow my index card of what they next thing that I have to do is.

From Hope K. of Port St. Lucie, FL:
Clinicals,,,,,URGGG just thinking about hearing that alarm clock at five a.m. makes me cringe. Well, I don't know about most students but for those Moms out there who are balancing school and family like myself, here are some tips:
Have everything in your bag and ready to go BEFORE you go to bed, even a lunch.
I have printed out a "form" to say to use during clinicals that i use to take down notes when i get report from the night nurse, this form includes simple things such as BP, R., P. HR. wound site, and wound care, Iv site and Size, Foley size. all the things your instructor expects you to know, i just have extras printed out, and clip them on my clip board for my own reference, of course never use a patients name. Trust me you will be surprized how organized this is, its better than using alcohol packets to write on and it looks professional!
One more tip for anyone who has yet to deal with a family that is grieving, last week I had a patient who was dying, her family was sleeping in the room with her and never left her side, everything I did they watched me like a hawk, they asked me questions to things that only God could answer, such as when is she going to die! Then such questions as, why is she breathing that way, why is her urine red, I felt completely overwhelmed, what do you do in that situtation?....You stop, take a deep breath and answer from your heart. I consoled that family.  If I didn't have an answer, I got one. I actually cried with them!  Yeah, some instructors may say its unprofessional, but when you're there for them and they talk about their mother and her life, and you're just there to listen, it makes a huge impact on their view of what nurses really do!  Even if you just stand there and hold a hand or give a hug, or fetch tissues, its worth it!  I left that day feeling completely drained. I had put so much of my own energy into it, but you know what, it was worth every second!  Dont be afraid to approach the dying patient and his/her family.  You will be looked upon for answers and support, and that is what nursing is in its purest form!  Good luck to all!

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