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So, you had a bad day!!!!

As an SRNA you are going to have bad days at clinicals. I’m going to say it again, let it sink in. As an SRNA you are going to have bad days at clinicals, that’s a fact. You are going to “goose” your intubations, miss IV’s and Aline insertions, overlook critical portions of the surgery and have terrible, stormy wake-ups. You are going to feel miserable, worthless, and incompetent. You are going to question your decision to become a CRNA, your capabilities, and your self-worth. Your classmates are going to have bad days too. The most important thing, however, is not to avoid making mistakes, but rather to learn from the ones you make and avoid making the same mistake twice. Here’s are three ways to accomplish this:

  • Remember you are a nurse first- Even though CRNA school is intimidating, and everything is new and scary right now, you have to remember that you are a NURSE. You’ve come into this program with some experience and you must rely on that experience during school. Based on your years in the ICU, there are certain things that you are expected to know as an SRNA. You don’t need to go to CRNA school to know how to treat hypotension, recognize your patient is tachycardic, or have good bedside manners. These are all fundamental, basic skills that you learned as a nurse. Rely on your experiences and nursing years to guide you through clinicals.

  • Be Prepared- you absolutely have to be prepared for clinicals. Make sure to read up on your patients and surgeries the night before, contact your preceptor and discuss the plan of care, and write up an excellent care plan. By arriving prepared for the day, knowledgeable about your case, and able to speak professionally about your patient, you will demonstrate to your CRNA preceptors that you are serious about your learning and ready to get the day started.

  • Learn from your mistakes- When you make a mistake at clinicals, make sure you don’t repeat it. You have to learn how to take constructive criticism, internalize it and improve. Early on, your preceptors aren’t expecting you to be able to intubate everyone, or manage a case smoothly, or emerge your patients skillfully. It’s too early for that. What they will expect from you is to improve your skills, awareness and vigilance. Take their suggestions and criticisms and put them to good use. You have to show that you are learning, changing, and evolving. After all, they have to make sure that you can safely care for a patient when you finally graduate.

The next time you have a bad day at clinicals make sure that something good comes out of it. Make sure that you learn and improve from it. Go home, pick yourself back up and come in the next day with a clean slate, ready for the day, a better SRNA than you were the day before. CRNA school is tough, being an SRNA means constantly adapting, changing, learning and improving. That’s the only way to survive school. If you learn how to do this as an SRNA, you will have a much smoother transition when you become a CRNA and are expected to constantly adapt, change and learn with each new patient.

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