Tips & Advice

Top Tips for Maximizing Learning During Rotations

Tips & AdviceAugust 28, 2017

Your first experience with clinical rotations can feel like a make or break experience. Like being thrown into the deep end, before you’ve learned to swim. Anxiety-provoking, scary; exciting. If you are enrolled in a nursing program, perhaps pursuing your RN to BSN degree, or even taking courses through an online nursing school, you will eventually face clinical rotations. Every nurse goes through them eventually, and every veteran has stories to tell. The gist is usually this: It is better to be prepared than to be clueless. 

To that end, here are some pointers that may help you maximize your clinical rotations experience. 

Wear Appropriate Attire. 

Start from the ground up. Nursing puts a lot of miles on a body. Appropriate footwear is crucial. Forget about fashion. The idea is to dress for work, not a fashion show. Sturdy, cushioned, fully enclosed footwear will help keep your feet up to the tasks ahead. 

Of course, you should also dress appropriately for the workplace. Consult your school’s dress code, if any, and strive to keep things professional. Avoid excessive jewelry or fragrances, avoid shorts or frayed clothing, etc.

Learn the Names of Staff Members

You will be assigned to a given service. Make an effort to learn the names of the professionals you will be working with. Typically, they are doing you a favor by giving you time and attention, while also completing their work. Demonstrate appropriate respect and gratefulness at all times. 

Arrive Prepared

Arrive early, Come prepared. Stay until all your work is done. Carry a notebook and pen so you can take notes. Have any required equipment ready. Review the background material on your assigned unit before you first report for duty. Get up to speed on the types of illnesses, injuries, or patients typically encountered there. Advance preparation will probably not go unnoticed. 

Do Not Shirk Duties—or Opportunities

Your willingness to pitch in and take on daunting—or unpleasant—tasks can help set you apart from your fellow students. Experienced nurses will be most impressed by students with a can-do attitude, and the enthusiasm to volunteer for tasks. On the other hand, you should never attempt to perform a task that requires special skills if you lack the training to do so. Patient safety must always come first. If you are uncertain about anything, ask questions. The stakes are too high to attempt to fake it. 

Interact Regularly with Your Preceptor

Your preceptor is tasked with teaching you the ropes on a given rotation. He or she will welcome your questions and you should feel free to maintain an open dialogue with him or her. Remember that any criticisms offered should be taken in the spirit of learning, and not taken personally. You are there to learn. They are there to teach.