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Catchers in Training: Day One

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.

The basics

  • 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 guide.
  • 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 beloved client.
  • 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 it correctly.
  • 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 tomorrow.Ē

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.

Posted By Barbra Elenbaas | 9/2/2014 3:24:11 PM



Any opinions expressed in this blog are those of the individual participant(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American College of Nurse-Midwives. ACNM is not responsible for accuracy of any of the information provided by guest bloggers and/or members via the Comments section. We welcome all feedback Ė including comments, ideas and suggestions. We also welcome civil, friendly debates. However, any and all content that is deemed inflammatory or rude will not be posted.


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