It’s common for nursing students to feel anxious about clinical practice. Students often tell us they’re afraid of making errors associated with medication delivery, procedural skills, and policy interpretation. There’s one nursing school mistake, however, that many students make but fail to realize until after graduation.
More times than not, nursing students make the mistake of not networking during their clinical rotations. They underestimate the power of building professional connections within these active learning environments, which can turn into a major disadvantage when pursuing future RN employment.
In fact, many of the job offers extended today, no matter the field of employment, come about because of who you know and who knows you. Some studies have even shown that up to 80 percent of job postings go unadvertised.
As a student in our 16-month ABSN program, you’ll develop your clinical experience in a wide variety of practice settings that not only expose you to different patient populations but also to key members of the local healthcare community.
By enrolling in our ABSN program near Boston, you might find yourself helping to care for patients at Massachusetts General Hospital or Tufts Medical Center. Or maybe you’ll attend our Charlotte ABSN program and gain clinical experience at Atrium Health or Novant Health. But no matter the location, you’ll complete six clinical rotations (each one representing 72 hours of practical experience) that focus on the following patient populations:
- Childbearing women
- Adults with common health problems
- Individuals and groups with mental health issues
- Adults in complex care situations
- Children with acute and/or chronic illnesses
- Public health and the community
You’ll want to make sure you network with all the nurses, nurse managers, physicians, and health administrators you can during your clinical rotations. After all, you never know who might be able to help you get a job in the future. In other words, don’t let a lack of conversation become your biggest nursing school mistake.
Several of our ABSN graduates will tell you that making a good impression with healthcare employers doesn’t start during your job search, it starts during your clinical rotations. In fact, while there’s never a guarantee of employment, many of our ABSN students receive job offers while still in nursing school.
Meet Sarah, one of our 2018 ABSN program graduates. She applied to a hospital in West Virginia while still in nursing school, and in less than a week’s time she received an offer to work in the emergency department.
As you go about your clinical rotations, which start during the first semester of our ABSN program, here are seven tips to help you connect with others — and truly stand out.
1. Seek Advice
If you’re not sure how to strike up a conversation with someone, you could break the ice by asking him or her for professional advice. After all, who doesn’t love to share advice for the benefit of others? Just be sure you’re asking at the appropriate time and place.
2. Ask Questions
Ask relevant questions that show you’re engaged and paying attention. In other words, don’t be afraid to ask your clinical preceptor why he or she chose a particular medicine or treatment for a patient. Just don’t ask in front of the patient.
"Don’t be afraid to ask your clinical preceptor questions. They can give you advice from a working nurse perspective," said Sarah.
3. Listen Up
Networking isn’t as simple as you chatting up another person. It also requires you to listen closely to what others have to say. Through listening, you can determine if there’s a synergy between you and that other person, which might create the opportunity to build a lasting bond.
4. Be Useful
If you experience downtime during a rotation, it’s never a good idea to just sit around. Always make yourself useful to those around you. Ask where you can help and gladly accept any task no matter how mundane it might seem. In doing so, you’re showing others that you’re a reliable team player, which can open the doors for more exciting tasks in the future.
5. Stay Productive
You could score points during your rotations by showing up early or staying late. Just make sure you’re being productive at all times and learning in the process. Also, be sure to bring study materials with you because you never know when you’ll have downtime during a rotation. After all, studying looks a lot better than checking social media. You might even consider reading up on a patient or preparing for your next set of rounds.
6. Solicit Feedback
When you’re about halfway through a rotation, it’s important to ask your nursing preceptor or clinical instructor if there are any skills that you need to improve upon. You don’t want to get to the end of a rotation to learn you were doing something wrong. By asking for feedback sooner rather than later, you have the ability to correct the problem, improve your grades, and talk about receiving a letter of recommendation.
7. Be Curious
During your clinical rotations, see if it’s possible for you to volunteer your time in other areas of practice. In doing so, you might get the opportunity to talk to nurses in other specialties and expand your knowledge base. There are more than 100 nursing specialties to choose from, so by learning everything you can about these different practice areas, you’ll get a better sense of where you want to work after earning your RN license.
Hopefully, these seven networking tips will give you the confidence to converse with others so you can avoid the nursing school mistake that no one talks about. Want to know more about our 16-month ABSN program? Curious about our strong network of clinical partners? Contact our admissions team today!