Guide to Assessing Opportunities for Student Nurses

Here comes the new crew of student nurses to the floor. You almost feel sorry for them, as you recall the days when you were in their shoes, excited to learn procedures hands-on, yet underneath scared of doing the wrong thing. It is important to reassure them that they will not be left unattended and will be shown how to do each procedure. Don’t assume that they have been shown every procedure at the college.

You definitely do not want to send them in to your most demanding patient. Take a few minutes speaking to the students and learn a little of their personalities. Some will be ready to jump right in, and others will be timid and may frighten a patient with their lack of knowledge. Give them tips on how to introduce themselves to your patients and what their specific role will be in the hospital. Your patients are your first priority and need some reassurances as well. Get the patient’s permission before sending any students into the patient room.

Try to set a few minutes aside to show the student the steps to a procedure in the med room or supply closet. Allow the student to watch the procedure being performed the first time, so he or she can see visually how it is done. This will help boost their confidence. When the student does the procedure for the first time, make sure you are right there by his or her side in case a step is forgotten.

If a student is doing a procedure more than once, try to have the same nurse with him or her. Different nurses use different approaches, and allowing the student to see more than one before they are comfortable can lead to confusion and a sense of uncertainty.

Review the orders that you have from the doctor for the day, and look for opportunities the student can learn something new. If a student does the same thing each time he or she is on the floor, then no new learning can take place, and the student nurse cannot expand on the knowledge available. This then is a waste of the student’s time.

After a student has completed a procedure, review what was done and make suggestions on where improvements can be made. Be sure to praise the student for everything that was done correctly. Again, you want to boost their confidence, so next time will be easier.