When a student is doing clinical rotations in our department I watch from a distance to see how they are reacting with my staff. Not only am I watching the student but I am evaluating my staff on their eagerness to help each student be the best that they can be. So don’t be intimidated by not knowing everything. Nobody knows everything.
That said, it is very important to come prepared for clinical. Believe it or not I have had students show up without a stethoscope. I like to see students come in and introduce themselves and ask what they can do that day. I look for those who ask questions.
For example, if the therapist is doing something you have never done before or don’t feel comfortable with you should ask plenty of questions while you have a credentialed therapist to help you. I want to see students who are willing to attempt new things with an attitude of wanting to learn, and I like to see them come prepared with paper and pen so they can take notes. If you have downtime between rounds use that time to study and ask others questions about what you are learning.
Students who are timid and afraid to talk or ask questions concern me. I never know if they really know something or are just afraid to ask. Remember, you are a student; we expect you to not know things. Realize that you never stop learning new things. Graduating does not mean you will stop learning.
I also don’t like those who try to figure it out on their own; that kind of attitude can cause a lot of problems and put a patient’s health in jeopardy. Laziness and acting like you already know everything is a definite turnoff as well. Just because you have been checked off on something doesn’t mean you can’t learn more. Just because you have been shown something once doesn’t mean you can’t learn something different by a different person’s teaching.
I have learned over the years that people learn in different ways, but there are also different ways to teach something too. If you ever stop learning you will become obsolete.
Tina Dean Everett is the cardiopulmonary care director at Highlands Medical Center in Scottsboro, AL.