Before and after your clinical rotation, you will meet with your clinical instructor. There are usually about 8-12 other nursing students in a clinical group at one time. Which is another reason why there is a nursing shortage. There are not enough instructors to take more students, but that’s another story.
Pre conference starts about 15-30 minutes before you are to meet your patient. The clinical instructor and your other cohorts will meet in a room to discuss some last minute questions, briefly something about your patient, what time lunch will be taken, last minute jitters you may have and any other changes.
During this time, your instructor will look to you for answers about your patient’s position. You may be asked about the diagnosis, medications, lab values and what will you teach the patient.
Examples of instructor questions for a patient admitted for Congestive Heart Failure:
- What is the patient’s last set of vitals?
- What is the patients history?
- What is the patient’s BNP lab value?
- Why do you check the pulse before giving Digoxin?
- What kind of teaching can you give the patient?
Sometimes pre conference will start at 6:30am and is over before 7:00am in order for students to see what it is like when the oncoming nurse is getting report. This will help you get a head start on what it is like to meet and greet your patient in the morning and set a plan. Also, most medications are given between 7:00am-9:00am, so hopefully your instructor won’t go over on time during pre conference. Usually the busiest times are 7:00am-10:00am. Patients need medications before breakfast, blood sugar needs to be checked, or vital signs need to be taken in the mornings and evenings.
Post Conference happens after your clinical day. The times vary, some instructors make students stay the whole 12 hour shift and others will leave around 3:00pm-5:00pm. By this time, there is nothing more to learn other than what you have been doing for the most part of the morning. Most procedures are done in the morning, and most of the evening medications are the same as what you gave in the morning. If you are on an intensive care unit, you may already get to see a code blue during the day.
Post conference could last longer than pre conference especially if the instructor lets you leave the floor early. This additional time is for questions students may have, sharing how your day went and what you learned, and often someone has to present a strength point presentation or talk about a specific procedure, specific medication or turn in care plans. Usually not all 8-15 students are on the floor seeing patients at one time. 1-3 students at a time get to experience a specialty area. For example one student may observe what an operating room nurse does and have to sit and watch surgeries all day. Another student may follow the charge nurse around in order to see what responsibilities one has when in charge. Some other specialty areas a student may be sent to are the electrophysiology lab (EP lab) and wound care. If your patient has to go for a procedure whether it be an MRI, wound debridement, PICC line placement, or to the bathroom. Try to go and get the experience and know where your patient is at all times.
Examples of post conference questions:
- Did you learn something new today?
- proportion what it was like to experience seeing a surgery?
- What did you teach your patient today?