By Shannon Keller,
SNM, ACNM Student Representative to the Board of Directors
Your first day of clinical. The moment you have long waited for.
The moment you have dreamed about since you signed up for the GRE and received
your acceptance letter to midwifery school.
For days like this, with so much anticipation, itís helpful
to have some tips as you prepare. Here
are a few tidbits to help you get ready to be a student midwife in the clinical
setting. Know that you are there to give quality care to patients and spend
time getting to know them and their symptoms, not counting how many patients
you see each day Ė use your time to listen to patients. You will be amazed at the
details and stories you will hear!
Happy fall semester, baby catchers in training! Go ignite
your passions with an open mind and a full heart.
- Make sure you are in compliance with your
schoolís requirements for clinical (especially with malpractice insurance).
- Know your hours and schedule needs. Plan to
arrive at least 15 minutes early on your first day (maybe 30) so traffic
doesnít increase your stress level. You might even do a trial run ahead of time
to be sure of travel time and parking, etc.
- Know your site: look up other providers and
staff members so you can impress them and make a good first impression. You can
also try scheduling an orientation with your preceptor to know the
office/hospital layout ahead of time and review the basics with them.
- Review your syllabus and the ACNM Core Competencies,
and be aware of your scope of practice in your state.
- Brings mints, a water bottle, and snacks that
are easy to eat when busy!
Other helpful tips
- Know that ALL members of the clinical site are
important players in giving patient care. Give respect and appreciate all that
is done around you. Say thank you and ask politely when you have a need.
Remember names of staff members that you meet and address them by name.
- Get to know your preceptor as a person. Ask
about their journey to midwifery and flatter them with your interest. It will
make your preceptor-student relationship grow more quickly, plus youíll earn
their trust and be more comfortable with them.
- Review common terminology and abbreviations.
- Download clinical apps that may help you with
diagnoses and symptoms, like NPWH, Epocrates, DynaMed, CDC Medical Eligibility
for Contraceptive Use (2010), U Central, and consider paying for the ASCCP app
for pap results.
- Lay out all your items the night before Ė donít
forget your stethoscope, lab coat, name badge, pens, watch, notebooks, phone
number of site and directions, syllabus/your schoolís clinical handbook or
- Wear comfortable, but professional clothing, and
wear deodorant, but not perfume Ė pregnant mothers have a keen sense of smell and do not want to be nauseated around you!
- Figure out the obvious first: where the bathroom
is (if you have not already been oriented to the practice), and how to sign
your name (for instance: Shannon Keller, RN, SNM, and know that your preceptor
must sign behind you!).
- Donít take it personally when a client does not
wish to see a student. We all know that we have the most in-depth exams, but
some women just do not understand this. Move on and spend time with another
- Itís ok (and quite acceptable) to not have all
the answers. If are unfamiliar with a question, itís okay to say ďI am not
sure, but I will go find out.Ē Similarly, never attempt to perform a task if
you feel unprepared. Itís alright to ask 3 times to make sure you will perform
- Grow thick skin. Have a relaxed attitude and be
able to laugh at yourself. Constructive criticism is important, and will only
make you better. Donít think you know it all, donít take feedback too personally,
and donít take clinical so seriously that you miss out on the golden moments!
- Maintain confidentiality and remember that
although some stories are gush-worthy and you will want to share with friends
and family. Remember HIPAA and conceal identities.
- When in doubt, wash your hands and smile.
Sometimes it is the simple things.
Finally, remember these wise words from Ina May Gaskin in Spiritual Midwifery:
ďA midwife must be an avid student
of physiology and medicine. She should
read and study constantly in a never-ending quest for new information. She should never assume that she knows
everything there is to know. A new piece
of information she learned yesterday may be essential and life-saving
Have more tips for
students? Leave a comment below!
Being a baby catcher-in-training
is hard work. With all the studying,
reading, networking, collaborating, writing, and clinical work, itís an
exhausting time in your life. Come to Catchers in Training to find out how to make the most of your student experience. See comments
from other students, read their experiences, and get information you wonít find
in any of your textbooks about this new and exciting stage in your career.