4 Nursing Skills You’ll Learn in Clinical Rotations

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skills you learn in nursing clinical rotations

Online theory coursework and nursing skills labs are important components of nursing school, but there's nothing more exciting than donning scrubs to care for actual patients. If you enroll in Northeastern’s Direct Entry-Hybrid Nursing program in Boston, you’ll spend the first 16 months earning your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), which includes completing assigned clinical hours in a variety of healthcare organizations.

Over the course of your clinical rotations, you’ll pick up a number of skills that will add value to your career as a nurse, including how to:

Engage with other healthcare professionals.

As a student nurse, it’s a given that you’ll work closely with licensed RNs in any clinical setting. But there are other healthcare staff that will impact your day-to-day success in the workforce. Doctors, case managers, social workers, physical and occupational therapists, radiologists, patient care technicians, even administrative assistants – depending on where you work, the members of your healthcare team will help you evaluate and diagnose your patients, prepare them for testing, manage their medical records and add context to any physical, mental and emotional symptoms they’re experiencing. Getting a taste of how these people work together in various conditions will leave you better prepared to manage these relationships after graduation.

Adjust to the ebbs and flows of a typical workday.

On medical shows, doctors and nurses often alternate between codes and coffee breaks, with little regard for the structure of an actual workday. Clinical rotations will bring the nitty-gritty details of a nurse’s job to the surface. For example, when you’re in the hospital, you’ll juggle taking vitals, performing health assessments, escorting patients to various procedures, assisting with personal hygiene tasks, and gathering patient information. You’ll learn how to prioritize tasks in high-stress situations and fill the time when there’s a lull in your shift.

Interact with patients.

You can learn a lot about the human body practicing on patient simulators, but it still can’t compare to working with living, breathing people. Tasks such as bed transfers, for example, become more complex when you factor in variables like body weight, muscle control, and pain level. And no patient will respond to the same piece of news in the same way. The more experience you have communicating with patients, the better. Take note of the variances in terminology as patients describe their symptoms and how they respond to your tone of voice, body language and touch. And if you ever have questions on how to approach or follow up with a patient, you can always reach out to your clinical instructor or cover nurse.

Manage clinical paperwork.

Recording patient histories and updating medical records is easily one of the most critical and most tedious aspects of healthcare delivery. You'll obtain data on medical symptoms, patient care tasks that were performed, lab values and test results, changes in condition, and any treatment complications. On a more practical level, you'll become accustomed to the current methods for gathering and storing medical information, ranging from paper charts to electronic medical records.

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