8 Nursing Clinical Tips: How to Succeed in Clinicals

Each blog post is dated and contains accurate information as of that date. Certain information may have changed since the blog post publication date. If you would like to confirm the current accuracy of blog information, please visit our ABSN overview page or contact admissions at (866) 483-8705.

Averett ABSN student working with sim manikin

The thought of beginning nursing clinicals during nursing school can be intimidating. How can you set yourself up to succeed in clinicals? We’ll walk you through a few nursing clinical tips you can use to make the most out of every clinical rotation.

Nursing clinicals are an invaluable component of your nursing education. Why is clinical experience important? Because clinical experiences not only develop your patient interaction and care skills, but they also teach you to manage patients and give you exposure to various nursing specialties. For all these reasons and more, Averett University’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program in Norfolk, Virginia, is committed to offering students a robust clinical education.

What are some ways of surviving nursing school clinicals? These eight nursing clinical tips will help prepare you to take on your clinicals with ease.

1. Be Ready to Learn

Whether or not you’ve worked in a clinical environment before coming to nursing school, remember that you have much to learn. You’ll need to develop a comprehensive set of skills in patient care over the next 16 months, as this is what will prepare you for a professional nursing career after graduation.

averett nursing student examining a patient's ear

From the first day of clinicals until the last, maintain a humble attitude and always stay open to learning. Seek out opportunities to grow and gain knowledge, and remember that, as you go along, you will continue to be able to improve upon your existing skills.

2. Ask Questions

Along with having a humble attitude and a learning-oriented mindset, another one of our top nursing clinical tips is to ask questions — a lot of questions. Don't worry or feel embarrassed about asking questions, and remember that every nurse was once in the shoes you’re in. Nursing is complex, and it will take a lot of time and hard work to feel comfortable with all the clinical responsibilities nurses face.

Therefore, when you’re in clinical rotations, ask questions any time you can. Your preceptor will be available to guide you and help you along the way, and asking questions also helps them know how to teach you best. It’s always best to ask sooner rather than later, so be brave and speak up.

3. Engage with Patients

Clinical rotations are an excellent opportunity to meet patients and practice your patient-interaction skills. Take advantage of this experience. As you talk to more patients, you’ll become more comfortable interviewing them, asking about their health concerns, and offering emotional support. These are vital communication skills that nurses must master.

Often, patients remember how a nurse treats them and makes them feel more than the actual care the nurse provides. Therefore, developing a comforting and reassuring demeanor with patients will help you be a more effective nurse. Good patient communication takes practice, so use your clinical rotations as a way to hone your skills.

4. Practice as Much as Possible

Another key way of surviving nursing school clinicals is to never miss an opportunity to practice. Even if you’ve already placed an IV or nasogastric tube twice before, if you get the chance to practice for a third, fourth, or fifth time, take it. You learn through repetition. Additionally, practicing your skills with different patients will refine your skills and diversify your experience.

Placing an IV, for example, requires different strategies depending on whether when you’re dealing with an elderly patient, a young adult, or a baby. You want to maximize your skillset, so always be willing to practice in the clinical setting.

Averett nursing instructor with students in a skills lab

5. Make Connections with Your Online Classes

The accelerated nursing curriculum at Averett consists of three components: online classes, required in-person skills, and simulation labs and clinical rotations. Each of these learning environments will develop your nursing competency in different ways, with all learning modules complementing each other to ensure that you’re a well-rounded nurse at graduation.

In your clinical rotations, make sure to think about how what you’re learning connects to your online classes. Pay attention to the medications your patient is on, and remember what side effects to watch out for. Review your patient’s diagnosis and refresh your memory on the common symptoms of that condition. By making these connections, you’re being an active participant in your learning.

It’s worth noting that the information you see firsthand in clinic is often what you remember in the long term, so pay attention and take mental notes to connect what you’re seeing in clinic to the topics you’re learning in your classes.

6. Be Patient with Yourself

When you begin nursing school clinicals, give yourself grace. Be patient and give yourself time to learn. There is a lot you don’t know yet, and skills will develop with practice over time. You do not need to know everything in the first week. Expect to feel out of your comfort zone, as all nursing students feel that way when they start. You will gain more confidence as you practice and are exposed to more situations.

7. Admit Your Mistakes

This next piece of advice is one of the most important nursing clinical tips to ensure patient safety. If you make a mistake during a clinical rotation, such as entering something into the chart incorrectly or forgetting to complete a task, inform your preceptor immediately. This is key, because your preceptor can help you fix the mistake and ensure all is well with your patient.

Accountability is a big deal in healthcare, as patients’ well-being depends on high-quality care. Therefore, if you ever have doubts, it’s your responsibility to swallow your pride and admit your mistake. Use the experience as a learning opportunity so you don’t make the same mistake again.

8. Ask for Feedback

The next of these nursing clinical tips will help you transform from competency to excellence in your nursing skills. Throughout your clinical rotations, ask for regular feedback from other experienced professionals about how you can improve. You can do this with your preceptor by either asking them how you can improve your technique with a specific skill or how you can enhance your organizational skills.

Averett nursing students in a skills lab learning to take each other's pulse on the wrist

You can also ask patients for feedback on certain things, as patients often offer useful perspectives. For example, you check in with your patients as you’re performing tasks to ensure they’re not in pain and, if they are, adjust your technique to improve their comfort. You can also ask your patients if you’re communicating well and helping them feel safe and supported.

This all goes back to having an attitude of learning and being humble, which will help you grow into the best possible nurse you can be.

Ready to Begin Your Nursing Journey?

If you’re interested in developing your clinical skills and becoming practice-ready in as few as 16 months, the accelerated nursing program at Averett University can get you there. If you have at least 60 non-nursing college credits or a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, you may be eligible for the ABSN program.

Offering three start dates a year, in January, May and August, the ABSN program at Averett helps students begin their journey to nursing sooner and make the best use of their time. You’ll also benefit from having an online and in-person curriculum, which allows you to study for exams when and where you want, while also offering you valuable in-person clinical experience.

To learn more about Averett’s ABSN program in Norfolk, Virginia, fill out our online form, and our admissions counselors will get in touch with you. Now is the time to make your future in nursing happen!