Top 5 things they don't teach you in nursing school
Editor(s): Lockhart, Lisa MHA, MSN, RN, NE-BC
Clinical Editor • Nursing Made Incredibly Easy!
Nurse Excellence Coordinator and Magnet® Program Coordinator • Ephraim McDowell Health • Danville, Ky.
As nurses, we often invest our first years of career development in nursing education. We prepare ourselves academically by receiving clinical exposure to different healthcare settings and seeking mentorship from experts in the field. But that doesn't cover everything we'll be exposed to do after nursing school. I recently asked various nurses in an acute care setting what are the top five things they wish they had learned in nursing school.
- Teamwork was the most common answer. How do you effectively work as a team? During your education experience you're taught to manage your patients' care as a primary caregiver. The idea that you belong to a larger team of professionals isn't truly integrated into that process. We speak and discuss multidisciplinary approaches to care, but the approach is consultative and collaborative in nature rather than cooperative.
- Communication was another common answer. We hear about this often when we discuss effective communication and follow-through, but is it emphasized in school? There's immense value in listening with intent to understand. Ensure understanding by repeating information back to the person and wait for confirmation. There can never be enough said about the value of effective communication.
- Workplace violence made the list. The work environment for most healthcare professionals is highly charged and stressful. The people I spoke with stated that they received no education about violence in the workplace. Issues with lateral violence, violence from assault, verbal abuse, discrimination, and sexual harassment weren't taught. Additionally, there was no education on prevention, de-escalation, self-preservation, or reporting of violence in their curriculum.
- De-escalation training. I've heard and personally experienced time and again the difficulties encountered because we aren't sufficiently prepared to handle patients who are confused, restless, impaired, or suffering from dementia or Alzheimer disease. While the care of these patients can be a specialty area, it's often found that many nursing professionals need more education on practical skills for managing these patients and maintaining patient safety. This lack of education and preparation can create a stressful environment for the nurse and the patient.
- Finally, stress management was a discussion with several of my peers. Many stated they weren't prepared for the emotions they felt when they started working in “the real world” of healthcare. Having some additional coaching and skills for the stress management would have been beneficial as they made the transition into their professional lives.
As a professional, you'll continue to grow and develop throughout your career. Your education is your foundation that will serve to launch your professional journey in what will hopefully be a long and successful career. Take every opportunity to learn and grow from those who have traveled before you.
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