Last month, we gave you an inside look at the role of a Utica College nursing student during a hospital clinical rotation. Clinical rotations are offered in all four semesters of our Accelerated Second Degree Nursing Program; each shift is another chance for you to practice bedside nursing skills, engage with living, breathing patients and learn from experienced healthcare professionals charged with making smart decisions in hurried situations every day.
Here are six members of a healthcare team you might work with during the course of a hospital clinical rotation:
This answer is the most obvious, but the role of a nurse is more complex than you might think. Not only do nurses serve as the main lines of communication for each patient in the hospital, they also create care plans, adjust those plans based on response to treatment, assist with diagnostic tests and analysis, and coordinate care with physicians and other healthcare professionals. During a typical rotation, you’ll care for the same patient during your entire shift. Part of your role includes maintaining close contact with the cover nurse originally assigned to your patient. At the beginning of your shift, you’ll meet with the cover nurse to learn about the patient’s condition and their response to treatment thus far. At the end of your shift, you’ll check in with the cover nurse to provide a final patient report. You can reach out to your cover nurse at any point during your shift if you have a question or concern.
Physicians diagnose injuries and illnesses, order tests, evaluate results and set the course of treatment for a patient receiving care. If a physician visits your patient to provide a diagnosis or establish treatment protocols, you can request to be present. You can also reach out to the physician once he/she has left the patient’s room with questions and concerns of your own. Many physicians are receptive to working with student nurses, so don’t be afraid to take the first step.
Case managers oversee an individual’s admittance to and discharge from the hospital and verify that a patient is receiving the appropriate level of care. They monitor treatment plans, act as an advocate when needed and ensure that the patient is equipped with the proper knowledge and resources to manage a health condition at home. When you’re not engaged in paperwork or bedside care tasks, consider reaching out to your patient’s case manager to gain insight into how care is coordinated throughout a patient’s hospital stay and the level of follow-up that occurs after discharge.
Physical Therapist/Occupational Therapist
Physical therapists help people with injuries or illnesses improve their overall mobility through exercise, stretching and other forms of therapy. Occupational therapists work with patients looking to regain their ability to perform everyday tasks such as eating, getting dressed or brushing their teeth. Part of your role as a student nurse will be to accompany your patient to any scheduled therapy sessions. This can be a great time to observe interactions between healthcare staff and patients and determine which types of communication are most effective in getting patients to participate in their recovery.
Hospital social workers help patients understand their diagnosis, provide information on available treatment services and assist physicians and other healthcare professionals in understanding the effects that a diagnosis may have on a patient’s mental and emotional health. A social worker is also involved in suspected cases of abuse or neglect to coordinate next steps. You can learn a lot from a social worker when it comes to determining the impact that an illness or injury may have on other areas of a patient’s life. You can also talk to a social worker to identify signs that a patient’s condition is the direct result of an unhealthy or unsafe living environment.
Pastor or Chaplain
Many hospitals employ a pastor or chaplain to address the spiritual or religious needs of patients, their families and staff. Services can include praying, referring individuals to faith-based support services and performing religious rituals as needed. You might reach out to a chaplain for counsel on how to incorporate a patient’s religious beliefs or requests into your care plan. You may also wish to seek out a chaplain if you’re struggling with a religious or spiritual issue of your own.