Basketball net and ball with crowd in stands in background
HealthOctober 13, 2020

From the stands to the field

By: Gloria Loera, DNP, RN, NEA-BC
Can you recall the first time a game on television captured your attention? Maybe you were a child or a pre-teen wondering if you were capable of such greatness.

The excitement and adrenaline of the activity as the players ran for the touchdown, scored the winning point after a long rally, or made a buzzer-beater basket. Did you envision yourself playing in front of fans? The thought of being able to perform at the level of professional athletes. Maybe this feeling of enthusiasm came from watching shows like Gray’s Anatomy or The Good Doctor. You imagined yourself as the nurse in a lifesaving situation with the person surviving and leaving with their family alongside them. In either scenario, the athlete or nurse dedicated themselves to learning their respective art. They wanted to be the best version of themselves. Just as with any sport, if the athlete expects to excel, the individual must dedicate themselves to learning the art, science, and form of the sport. The same is true for those who pursue nursing.

The athlete observes the activity of the sport with the intention to replicate the physical actions. After each observation, the potential athlete practices the action with the goal of improving and reaching their fullest potential. Day in and day out, under rays of heat and in the blistering cold, the athlete continues to perfect their sport by applying what they learned and improved upon. This discipline is no different from the student nurse learning the art and science of nursing. Both require dedication, discipline, and genuine interest.

As college students complete core curriculum, most often they will rely on comprehending and memorization of content. This poses a challenge when the student transitions to a program whereby the application of content is expected. The inability to modify studying methods, specifically for exams, impacts the student’s success. Nursing students can experience challenges when the student is focused on knowing the content rather than both knowing and doing. Additionally, the profession of nursing requires a lifelong commitment to staying abreast of issues and trends as evidence generated will lead to change in practice. Therefore, the student who adapts their approach, such as that of the athlete, will increase their likelihood of successfully understanding the content and safely applying the concepts in practice.

Experienced nurses will reminisce of how they learned, perhaps practicing the concepts on their fellow nursing student peers or on a piece of fruit. Nursing education has relied on some form of simulation through the course of the profession. However, with limited access to practice environments and aging faculty, the use of simulation is imperative in preparing nurses with the ability to develop clinical reasoning.

What can the nursing student do to prepare for their game of the year, their championship? Prepare like an athlete and develop a game plan.

Create a schedule

  • Use a weekly calendar to outline each day’s courses to include clinical skills and rotation activities.
  • Color code each course for ease of identifying open time slots in the day.
  • If employed, include these work shifts in the weekly calendar as well.
  • Factor time for course preparation and studying for exams.

Apply the concepts

  • Identify available resources. Many course textbooks, if purchased new, have an access code for online tools. For example, audio of respiratory and heart sounds.
  • After each didactic course, use the teach-back method with a peer or teach a family member the concepts as if they were the client. This will reinforce comprehension and application.
  • Outline concepts/topics by strengths and opportunities. This will allow the student to easily identify concepts/topics requiring further review.
  • Record yourself performing skills and view the “film” as athletes do post-game to study their own opportunities and opponent strengths.

Above all else, maintain enthusiasm for the forthcoming challenges, knowing the preparation to excel has established a strong foundation to support both personal and professional development.

Gloria Loera, DNP, RN, NEA-BC
Nursing Education Author, Wolters Kluwer Health
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