A Nursing Student’s Advice on the First Day of Clinicals

By Justine Fischer, Nursing Student and ThriveAP Contributor

We asked ThriveAP contributor and nursing student, Justine Fisher, to share her first day of clinicals as a BSN student with us. Here’s a peek at her experience and resulting advice for other nursing students embarking on the clinical experience.

Part 1: “What am I doing here?!”

When I first arrived at the hospital and was told about my patient I quickly thought to myself “What am I doing here?”. I didn’t feel qualified, prepared or confident enough for the day at hand. My goal was to act as much like a sponge as possible and try to learn anything and everything. My experience that first day mostly consisted of caring for my patient through assessments, vital signs, a urinary sample via straight catheter and providing general care and assistance with anything she needed.

Part 2: “I can handle this!”

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As soon as I met the patient and my nurse, I was no longer scared or hesitant about the day and instead I felt a sense of confidence. I made the decision that could handle anything the day threw at me and use it as a learning experience. I thoroughly enjoyed caring for my patient and making sure her needs her met and she was comfortable.

Part 3: “Well…thank goodness I made the right decision.”

The nurse I was assigned to was wonderful. She tried to make everything a learning process and did not mind answering any questions that came to my mind. Due to my patient’s altered mental status, I am not sure how she felt about my actions but I repeatedly brought her cranberry juice, helped her to reposition and other small tasks which hopefully helped to improve her quality of life. I barely spent any time that first day sitting down or sitting at the computer and I felt amazing. It was the first time I felt secured in my decision to attend nursing school. Up until that day I had questioned my choice throughout the first semester of tests and classes, but working with patients that day and being on the floor reinforced my desire to be a nurse. That reinforcement was honestly something I needed to refocus my energy into my studies and learn as much as possible about my future career.

Part 4: I am going to be able to make a difference in someone’s life every single day, how cool is that?”

I was reminded that day, seeing my patient alone in the hospital room, that when people get sick, their family and friends can not be by their side every minute and as a nurse, it’s our job to ensure that they are receiving the best possible care. The beauty of the situation was that although my patient was alone, I was there and I knew that my nurse and I were providing her with the best possible care. There truly was a happy place in my heart that day knowing that I made a difference in my patients’ life and was able to provide company to her and talk to her.

Part 5: “I’ve never seen so much poop in one day and I could honestly care less.”

One of the most interesting things to me on my first day was the trust and appreciation the patients I saw had for nurses. I helped many patients and they were not afraid to tell me intimate details of their lives, get completely naked in front of me, or ask for assistance with going to the bathroom. I am not a shy person and so having this non-judgmental, totally raw connection, with people with whom I had only just met was a wonderful feeling. I tried to put myself in the patients’ shoes and truly understand their needs and wishes.

Advice: bring snacks, drink water, smile often, be patient, listen to the nurse, talk to your patient (I’m not sure why this needs to be said…but trust me, for some people it does!), get a clipboard, have alcohol wipes on hand, wear comfortable shoes


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