Top 10 Clinical Placement Tips For Nursing Students

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How to get the most out of your Clinical Placements

Being on clinical placement is hard, trust me I know. But this time in your Nursing education is vital because this is where you will learn the most! So let me go through some of the key things YOU can do to get the absolute most out of your clinical placement.

1. Do some research

It’s always a good idea to find out what kind of placement you’re going on and do some homework. Familiarise yourself with the main aspects of the role and common procedures just to get yourself prepared for what’s coming.

2. Be on time

Being punctual strengthens and reveals your integrity and it shows that you are dependable. You’re gonna have to be on time for many many shifts in your career, so you may as well set your standards now. Showing up late for clinical placement is not a good look or message you want to send to your supervisor or the Nurses you’re going to be working with.

3. Be prepared

Be prepared and take it seriously. I suggest you get yourself a stethoscope so that you’re not scrambling to find one or have to borrow your Nurse stethoscope every time you need to do vitals. Bring a pen! It’s surprising how many students show up with NO pen! Get a FOB watch either digital or analog, as long as it counts seconds cause you’re gonna need it when counting heart beats per minute and respirations. Remember that you are there because you WANT to be there and you gotta act like you actually do.

4. Write it down drug names and what they’re for

The sooner you start learning about different drug classes the better. Get yourself a little notepad that can fit into your pocket. Write down all the drugs you see, hear or read about. Look them up when there’s a quiet moment or look them up at home.

5. Ask questions!

Ask as many questions that you can! It’s not annoying, in fact it shows the Nurse you are working with that you are interested and willing to learn!

6. Show initiative

Being proactive and showing initiative will serve you well on your clinical placement. Show your Nurse that you are thinking ahead and that you’ve got good time management. Keep on top of the things that need to be done and if you don’t know what they are, ask your Nurse! Hey, what can I do right now? You’re not always going to be paired with a Nurse who loves to teach so sometimes you have to take control of your own learning and seek it out.

7. Dress appropriately

If the dress code states, black closed in shoes or no jewellery, make sure you follow it. It’s a pain I know, but it comes with the job. Unfortunately we are not allowed to wear whatever we want because of the work that we do. Suck it up!

8. Put your hand up for opportunities to learn

If your Nurse asks you “do you want to do this” ALWAYS, ALWAYS say YES. Even if it terrifies you. This is your opportune moment to learn! And someone is willing to teach you. NEVER say Not an opportunity to learn because you’re scared or because you’ve never done it before. The more exposure you get the more confident you will be in your Nursing practice.

9. Be aware that Nurses work in different ways

You’re gonna learn fairly quickly that there’s a 100 different ways of giving a subcut injection. Every Nurse is gonna tell you something different and you may end up frustrated because you’re getting all these mixed messages. My advice is that you first of all stick to what they’ve taught you in Nurse labs. This is the most up to date way of doing things so you can’t go wrong with sticking to that. You will take bits and pieces from all different Nurse who taught you things and find out what works best for you.

10. NEVER say “I don’t know” to a patient and leave it at that

If you are working with a Nurse and you have say 5 patients together that you are looking after. If a patient asks you a question that you don’t know the answer to you can say “look I’m not sure, but I will find out for you” Never ever leave them with “I don’t know” and that’s it. Then go to the Nurse you are working with, tell them what the patient asked and go from there.

Follow these tips and you will get a lot more out of your clinical placements which will be more enjoyable not only for you but also for the people around you.


Nurse Jenny



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Jenny, RN is a Registered Nurse working in Sydney Australia. She received her degree in 2013 in Sydney as an international student from Sweden and graduated with a Distinction. She has a passion for Nursing and helping other Nurses and student Nurses in the field, looking at life from the positive side and always giving back where possible. She is the Founder of Bjorn Hall Stethoscopes, a company she created when she saw a need for more personality in the workplace.

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