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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Student requests tips for starting RT clinicals

Your question:  I am nervous about starting clinicals next semester. I am the type of person who will let others try things before I do. I am not afraid to do those things,  I just feel like it is being polite to wait.  I know that it is important to stand out at clinical in order to do well in the programs and to later get a job offer. Do you have advice for new clinical students?

My answer: This is a subject I've covered before on this blog, although some things are worth repeating.
It seems you have the right attitude about clinicals.  Usually when I have students with me I like to have them watch the first time I do something, and then I encourage them to jump in and do it the next time.  

Usually by the time you get to clinicals you should know the basics of doing RT stuff, it's just getting over the initial fear and gaining confidence that remains to be tackled.  The advice given to me going into clinicals was this: Action cures fear.

I'll give an example.  Clinicals are similar to learning to drive a car.  You sit in class to learn the basics, and then you're asked to sit in the driver's seat.  You are initially scared, but you know what to do.  You then do what you were trained to do, probably while fumbling and being a bit clumsy in the process. 

But you do it, and you feel good about it.  You brag to your friends that you did it.  Then you drive again and again, your fear disappearing (due to action) and your confidence growing.  Before you know it, driving is so easy you don't even think about it while you're doing it.

Clinicals are the same way.  Watch your preceptor do a few breathing treatments, then offer to do it with him observing.  The same thing with setting up a BiPAP, or ventilator, or doing CPR.  Before you know it you'll be confident in both your judgement and your skills that working on a sick person will be as easy as sitting in an office working on a computer.  

There are a few other tips I will offer.  

One, is I would never volunteer that you are a student (unless your preceptor or teacher says otherwise).  If the patient asks if you're a student, tell the truth; just don't offer it (it will probably be on your name badge anyway).  I recommend to my students to enter the room and say, "Hi, I'm (your name) from respiratory therapy, and I'm here to do (procedure).  Could you please tell me your last name?"  That's how I approach every patient, and that's how I encourage my students to do the same.  

Two, do not every imply to your preceptor or your patient that you are nervous.  The usual rule here is that no one will know you are nervous unless you say so.  

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Anonymous said...

Thanks! I'm a 2nd yr RT student in Canada dealing with the nerves of our occasional prac shifts, so if I keep your tips in mind, I should feel a bit more relaxed :)

Unknown said...

Thank you!! I am also starting clinicals next semester! Very helpful advice and I love reading your blogs!