Student nurses have a unique role on the healthcare facility floor because their primary reason for being there is to learn. However, as a student nurse, you'll still need to follow all hospital procedures and provide appropriate patient care as part of your duties. This is in addition to all the preparation required by your clinical instructor.
Obtain Your Patient Assignment
Each day you're on the clinical floor as a student nurse, you'll be given a patient assignment. This will consist of the names of one or more patients who you will be taking care of the next day. These patients will be selected by your clinical instructor with input from the floor nurses. Once you receive the names of your patients from your instructor, you will need to go to the hospital floor and look at their charts. You will look up your patients' diagnosis, the medications they take, and treatments they receive. Also look for anything that will impact your day from an organizational standpoint such as frequent vital sign or blood glucose checks. Although preparing can be nerve-wracking, take comfort in knowing you're not alone; most nursing students say the clinical component was the hardest part of the nursing school experience.
Research Your Patient Assignment
Each instructor will want you to prepare a little differently, but most expect the same basics. You will need to spend some time reading about the diagnosis so you thoroughly understand it. Your instructor might ask you to explain the pathophysiology, and how medications affect it. You will also need to look up each medication your patients are on; instructors love to drill students with medication questions. Make sure you know the mechanism, action, peak and onset. If your patients have any special monitoring equipment or any other type of interventions, such as a chest tube, research how to perform care related to that intervention.
Duties on the Floor
If possible, get to the floor at least 20 minutes before your shift starts, so you can look up your treatments in the hospital policy and procedure book. Once the shift starts and your instructor is on the floor, check in with your primary nurse and then introduce yourself to the patient. Address them by last their name until they ask you to do differently. Then you'll need to do your morning assessments, help the patient with their morning care, and prepare to give out medications, if that's part of what you are approved to do by your instructor. Through the day you'll also need to provide any needed treatments as needed and as your clinical instructor permits. If you have any extra time, ask your fellow student nurses and the floor nurses if there is anything you can help them with.
At the End of the Day
Before the end of your shift, finish up all documentation, including bedside charting for vital signs. There may be physical charting to be done in the chart at the nurses' station or you might need to input your documentation into an electronic medical record. Make sure you have signed for any medications you gave. Say goodbye to your patients, make sure they have everything they need and that the call bell is within reach. You will need to check out with both your your primary nurse and your instructor.
KS Dunham began writing professionally in 1995. She authored four health-related books: "How to Survive and Love Nursing School," "How to Survive and Love Your Life as a Nurse," "The Boy's Body Book" and "The Girl's Body Book." Dunham has a Bachelor of Science in nursing from Drexel University.