Dear RT Students
I have noticed that a majority of RT students are well equipped with wisdom and the skills and or at least the confidence to jump in and try new things. In most cases I find it's easy to work with the student, and help him or her ease into the new task.
Yet occasionally we get a student who just doesn't seem to fit in. While I find that I'm very patient, as are most of us RTs, sometimes even the most patient of us RTs can't seem to help some students.
Yet as a teacher, or preceptor, it's important to never give up, because even the student who appears to be nervous, who appears to be incompetent at first, may turn out to be an elite RT given time and a good teacher.
I say this not just on my experience as a preceptor, but as my experience in real life. During my first clinical rotation, I was not the best student myself.
As a preceptor, I do not expect my students to be perfect. And I don't have a problem if, for example, a student misses an ABG the first time, or even the second, or a third or fourth. Sometimes it just takes time.
Yet whether I decide to let you keep trying, whether I have the confidence to allow you to keep trying, depends on you. So with that in mind, I have composed the following tips to help you, the RT student, make the best of your clinical experience:
- Do not talk about the patient's condition in front of the patient. Patient's do not want to be reminded they have end stage lung cancer or end stage COPD. The only exception is if the patient asks.
- Yes it may be nerve racking, but you have to jump in at some point and actually do the task. Sure you can watch once or twice, but if you're in a clinical to do incentive spirometers, breathing treatments, ABGs, and the like, you should already have practiced in school, and at least have an idea of what to do. No RT is going to throw you to the wolves, so just do it and learn as you go. There's an old saying: Action cures fear!
- No one expects you to be confident the first time you do something. Yet the best students at least feign confidence. Do what you were trained to do.
- Do not waver. Do not be wishy washy.
- Do not say things that make the patient and preceptor think you have no confidence. I'll give some examples pertaining to the first ABG attempt: "Why do I feel two pulses?", "Do I poke here or here?" Saying such things will only result in me doing the ABG myself, and my being less willing to allow you a second attempt.
- Stay calm. Never Panic. Do not let adrenaline get the best of you.
- If an RT asks that you do something, do it.
- If you are not ready to do something, just say so. Yet again, you have to do it at some point.
- If I ask you a question and you don't know the answer, just say you don't know. Do not guess. That only makes you look like like a goof.
- I do not expect students to know to know the answer to all my questions, yet the more wisdom you have the better you will appear to the preceptor.
- When you get your work done, ask intelligent questions about interesting patient cases.
- Know as much about the patients you are taking care of as possible.
- Reveiw charts as often as you can.
- Offer to help out as often as possible, especially if the RT already knows you're compitent in an area, such as catching a treatment here or an EKG there. This shows you are willing to work.
- Again, always be involved in something useful. Homework and studying is something useful. Don't just sit around with your finger up your butt, so to speak.
- DO NOT PARTICIPATE IN COMPLAINING!!!! A good preceptor will not complain about his job, but if it happens ignore it.
- Do not play games on the Internet, unless you've earned the right to do so.
- Use common sense. This should actually be #1 on this list.
- Do not be over confident. Don't say you can do something that you know you cannot do
- Never defend yourself. If you're accused of doing something wrong, just say, "Okay, I'll do better next time." I find that denial and defending is often a sign of guilt anyway.
- Say good things about your preceptor to your teacher, especially if he went to the same school as you.
- Walk alongside your preceptor. Do not lag behind, forcing the RT to slow down. Keep pace.
- Don't invade a person's personal space. When speaking to someone, stay at least an arm's length away.
Again, most RT students are top notch. Heed the tips above and you'll be sure to win the confidence of your preceptor.