It has been cloudy + rainy for over a week now, so it’s been bumming us out a bit! Today we decided to pick some apples and get out of the house for some genuine fresh air. Every time I come to this farm, I feel so at peace. Something about nature and the physical act of grabbing a fresh apple from a tree connects with me spiritually.
“Everywhere I go, I keep falling in love with the trees and wanting to stay just a little bit longer” ~AVA
One of the things that completely freaked me out was doing my first head to toe assessment on a real patient. Now, most of my classmates already work in the health field as LPNs or NAs so this was no biggie for them; but for me, the closest I have ever been in that situation is 1) me being the actual patient and 2) when I worked the front desk at an OB/GYN office for a little while.
So for me, this was a really big scary task. Although I felt prepared (I’m almost finished with my What To Bring On You First Clinical Shift – so I will link it here when it’s posted), there was one area in which I felt I could have been better prepared: I didn’t have the right assessment tool sheet that worked for me. I found all different types and examples on the web, from super simple to extremely detailed, but this specific one (which I rewrote and adapted to my needs) is what really helped me during my first semester of clinicals. This is what I would suggest starting with and then adapting it to fit your style. It’s pretty basic, but it includes a generalized overview of the systems.
I do have a more extensive one I now use and will upload that in the future 🙂
So your first night of clinicals is here! Yay! You’re probably feeling a mix of emotions – anxious, excited, maybe even a little scared. Maybe this is your first time being a part of a healthcare team. It’s OK to be all those things; in fact, it’s totally normal.
Let me start out by saying, aside from all the anxiety you may feel, your first shift is going to be wonderful. It’s going to a rollercoaster of emotions, but you’re going to leave feeling good about yourself because you’re going to feel accomplished. You will feel like all the hard work leading up to this moment is finally starting to pay off. All the A&P courses, science, stats, math, and so many more that you had to take – they are all coming together to bring you to where you are right now. Exciting things, right?
(Be sure to check out my first year of nursing school – tips, feelings, and other things here)
One thing that really made me anxious was, what do I bring for my first night? Am I bringing too much? Not enough?
I wanted to write out what I suggest bringing to your first shift so you feel more confident. One less thing to worry about! I bought almost all of my stuff on Amazon – so if you are have an Amazon Prime account, you’re good to go!
Click the link below the picture to pull up Amazon.
Clipboard – you’re going to want a clipboard. You may read online that some people say to only bring things you can carry in your pocket, or that it’s gross to take a clipboard in and out of patient’s rooms, but honestly, this was essential to me. With a clipboard, I am able to keep all my files organized: my reference sheets, my head-to-toe assessment printable, and any assignments we had to complete during our shift. I bought the first clipboard you see here; however, the two below are the ones I would recommend if you can afford it.
2. Penlight – this is essential to use during your assessment, not only for neuro (eyes, pupils), but to look into your patient’s nose, ears, throat, etc. This light comes with a nice mm ruler and batteries are included – so that’s an extra bonus 🙂
3. Badge/ID Holder – I highly suggest this plastic one. It snuggly fits both my school ID and my hospital ID. I love plastic because A) I personally like the way it feels/presents – to me it looks more professional, and B) plastic is less likely to get damaged, dirty, or wet. Some of my classmates have holders that zip and those are great too!
4. Watch – This one is my absolute favorite starter watch. I am hoping to get an Apple Watch, but for now this is perfect. I love the crisp white color (though they offer a ton of different ones) and I love that you can spin it around; for example, if you started checking pulse and didn’t want to wait until the seconds hand got to 12, 3, 6, 9, you can spin it so that the arrow starts wherever you start. I think this is a nifty tool when you are nervous and just starting out.
5. Scissors – You may not use these right away, but they come in handy for more than just wound care. When I don’t have these on me, I’m always find myself saying, I really wish I had my scissors on me right now.
6. Stethoscope – This is obviously essential. You will need to listen to your patient’s heart and lungs. I think it’s important to remember that if you are just starting out, you don’t need the most expensive stethoscope on the market. As you grow, so will your equipment. This stethoscope is a great “meet me in the middle” one. I chose the lilac color and the lightweight Littmann. The lightweight stethoscope is a great option if you plan to have it around your neck all the time, but it depends on what type of vibe you gravitate towards. Some people prefer a weighted one. Either one is good to me 🙂
7. Badge/ID Clip – You definitely do not need this fancy clip. You can get a pack of 4 plain ones from the Dollar Tree. This clip is super cute and I think adding an extra touch to being a nursing student makes it fun.
8. Scrubcheats – These are great resources to have for clinicals. I started with the first one, which is basic, and then for Christmas, I was given the more expensive, in-depth one. I would choose the second one over the first one, but the first one is best if you are on a budget. The first set is small cards, while the second set is bigger, better pictures, more information, and fits perfectly in your scrub pocket.
Also – if you can’t even afford that right now, there are a ton of free printables online.
Extras – these are just some cool things I have gathered from other friends that I thought would be worthwhile to share!
Stethoscope Case – protects your stethoscope. A lot of wear and tear happens because most people just toss theirs in a bag (I’m guilty), so this is a good investment.
Stethoscope Holder – there will be times you may not be allowed to wear your stethoscope around your neck (certain units), so this comes in handy. There are also many people out there who prefer to wear it this way.
Cute Nursing Bag –
Nursing Shoes – I purchased a black pair of Nurse Mates shoes 🙂
I hope you find this list helpful. If you are a nursing student or a RN, is there anything you would add to this list? Be sure to leave a comment!
Happy nursing! I hope you enjoy your first clinical. Take a deep breath and remember – you are where you are because you earned it!