Although I had some downtime, this Practical Nursing clinical was still a nerve-wracking experience because it is a Preceptorship, meaning I am alone on-site with no instructors or classmates.
Although I did have a classmate that was assigned to the same facility, she was on a totally different floor and unit, so I didn’t see her. I was basically all alone with only my skills and knowledge to back me up! Well, that’s not totally true. I was assigned a Preceptor (an LPN who works full-time in the facility) and given the same schedule as her. As well, I was given a Mentor who is an instructor from Stenberg, and who happen to be my instructor from my last placement.
But needless to say, I was still pretty nervous for my first day on the floor.
The first few shifts consisted of orientating myself to the facility and policies, learning the day-to-day schedule and tasks that needed to get done, and getting to know the patients and staff.
I quickly became aware that the biggest task that the LPN was responsible for at this facility was medication administration. By my third day on the floor, I felt comfortable giving most medications and even started to look forward to it! I was quickly learning the patient’s names, conditions, and how they received their meds. I had the chance to give injections, administer nutrition and meds through a feeding tube, and perform several assessments and follow-ups before and after administering medications. As well, I gave meds via several different routes and reviewed common medications.
Although it seemed we were always under a time crunch, I liked the challenge of time managing, and enjoyed this part of the job. I feel that I was able to gain a lot of confidence and experience in this area of nursing.
There is a huge focus on the importance of asking for help if I was ever asked to perform a task that was new. Otherwise, I found that most of the skills that I was tested on during Case Studies were second nature to me – probably from all of the practicing! For example, taking the patient’s vital signs. I did this about 30 times over the week I was there. I am thankful for all this practice, but also able to reflect on some learning: I want to be sure not to rush through an assessment, so the patient will feel more at ease and more inclined to ask any questions. Many patients feel anxious or nervous with all that pressure in the arm when taking blood pressure. It can be painful and they can feel helpless, especially if they are confused or disoriented.
I’ve really learned on this preceptorship to go slow, explain the procedure, and put the patient at ease by talking to them, asking them questions, or making conversation.
All in all, my Term 3 Preceptorship was a pretty positive and fairly relaxed experience. The difference between my nervousness on the first day and my confidence on the last day was very apparent. And since we only require 60 hours of the clinical experience in one month, there were a lot of days off which was much needed after the busy term! Once I was done my hours, I had the rest of the month off. I was able to have some time off to myself, but also was able to review material from the last term and start preparing for the next term!
Check out this video of our Practical Nursing Program.