This semester was the second half of my first year of nursing school. And with this semester, came my first round of clinical. It was definitely an interesting semester to be a nursing student and have clinical, since it got cut several weeks short due to the global pandemic currently happening. With that being said, I am still so happy to be in this program, and I was definitely still able to learn a lot in the clinicals we did complete. At the beginning of the semester, I was so nervous and thought I would never be able to do any of the things we were learning. Sometimes just thinking about having to walk into a patient’s room by myself would make me so nervous, I thought for sure I couldn’t do it. I felt like I didn’t know how to talk to the patients, and I thought that they for sure would know I was nervous and might not know exactly what I was doing. This slowly started to change, however. As weeks passed and I went to more classes and clinicals, I slowly started to learn how to talk to patients and be more comfortable doing so. Actual experience and communications class have both helped me so much with these things. The experience helped make me feel more comfortable in the actual hospital setting with real patients. It just started to become almost habit, or routine, like I had been doing it for years. Looking back at clinical now, that is probably my greatest personal accomplishment this semester. As far as being able to talk to patients better, most of those skills came from communications class. I haven’t really had any “crazy” experiences in clinical, where I would have to use some of the more drastic skills we have learned yet. But, I feel so much better prepared. When one of these more intense/serious/not as normal situations occurs in the future, I feel like I will know how to handle it better because of all the little skills we have learned throughout the course of the semester. It’s also all of the little things we have learned that you don’t really think about, that have made a world of a difference. Something like knowing it’s my responsibility to tell family members to apply PPE if I see them going into my patient’s room, so I am advocating for both my patient’s safety and their safety. All of the mannerisms and characteristics that should be used when talking to the nurses and doctors are helpful as well. I have never been someone who is just rude to people, especially my elders/supervisors, but actually seeing examples and how to handle situations was very helpful. I feel so much more comfortable now talking to nurses and doctors when I need something or need to tell them something. Finally, all of the communication skills related to ISBAR reports were extremely useful. I was already using ISBAR in the clinical format, but I didn’t really fully understand what it was or how it worked. After learning about it in class, it was almost like hearing a report for the first time when I went to my next clinical. I knew exactly what they were going through, and why what they were saying was important/chosen to be said. This helped me organize my thoughts better, and it also allowed me to actually ask questions when they gave hand-off report. I knew what they were saying and talking about better, so I was able to engage with it more and get any questions I might have answered.
With all of this being said, I am still by no means a communication expert. One of the things that I still need to work on is “small talk” with the patients. I don’t really like using that phrase, because no talk with a patient is just small talk. Everything they say is important. What I’m referring to is if I’m in there doing charting, working on paperwork, waiting for the nurse, etc. I don’t always do the best job of talking to the patient. I know you don’t have to talk to them 24/7 because sometimes silence is just as important. I do need to do a better job of talking a little more, so it isn’t just always silence, because that’s not good either. I also need to do a better job of explaining what I am doing when I am doing something. More specifically, during medication administration in my case. When I passed meds, I was not the best at saying what they were and what they were for as I gave them to the patient. It is important because it will help establish trust, and the patient will most likely be more compliant if they know just what exactly I am giving them. Lastly, something I still somewhat struggle with is expanding on previous answers to questions or just something the patient said in general. I have gotten a little better at this, but I am still not very good at it. For example, if the patient says they have pain, I normally will ask what it feels like, but then I forget to expand even further into when it started or if it’s normal or who long it has lasted, etc. The follow-up questions are normally just as important, if not more important, than the original question, because they can potentially lead to connections between other things going on with the patient. In conclusion, I have learned a lot in just this one short semester of clinicals, and I plan on using what I have learned as I move forward throughout my nursing career.