Role & Tasks of a Nursing Lab Instructor

Nursing lab instructors answer student nurses' questions before they arrive on the clinical floor.
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Nursing lab instructors are the coaches who prepare student nurses in an academic setting for their real-world work in health care facilities. They teach students how to take vital signs, how to administer medications and try to soothe the students' jangled nerves, anxious about their first day on the floor. They're also in charge of assessing students' clinical skills, so they're the last gatekeepers before student nurses are let loose on actual patients.

Student Instruction

    Nursing schools assign students to specific times in the nursing lab which may include time spent in a larger group for student instruction. If you're working as a nursing lab instructor you're in charge of the classroom portion, and would need to assist students in learning about specific clinical tasks through lecture, movies, diagrams, PowerPoint presentations, or using other instructional mediums. You might also demonstrate the procedure, either on a mannequin or a student. You would need to teach the task and the rationale behind the task and emphasize safety points.

Guided Practice

    After the instructional portion of a class, nursing lab instructors often divide students into small groups to practice the procedure. This involves practicing on other students when appropriate, for example, when students are learning to take vital signs. Students also practice on mannequins, for example, when they're learning the process for urinary catheterization. Students may also have the opportunity to practice on specially built clinical simulation devices. As the nursing lab instructor, you supervise this practice, give feedback as needed, and pull the class back together to give group instruction if that seems necessary. In addition to helping them practice, this process also helps them build confidence in their hands-on nursing skills.

Return Demonstration

    After students learn specific clinical skills, you assess them while they perform a return demonstration, that is, a demonstration of that skill. You may be required to check off their demonstration against specific criteria and you may also use equipment to assess their skills. For example, in a vital signs return demonstration you might use a dual headed stethoscope to ensure that you and the student are hearing the same blood pressure sounds.

Final Preparation for Clinical

    Nursing lab instructors also provide students with a general clinical orientation before their first day on a clinical floor. You coach them on what they're required to wear, what they should eat before they show up and how to deal with the stress the night before. You might also give them a refresher on tube safety and teach the basics of the electronic charting system in use at their clinical placement. You answer any questions they have about general clinical procedures and how to act as a student nurse.

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