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September 2010, Volume 40 Number 9 , p 51 - 52


  • Peggy Hewitt MSN, RN


YOU ARRIVE on your nursing unit at the beginning of your shift and notice nursing students talking softly among themselves. Checking the assignment board, you see that a student is assigned to one of your patients.Vivid memories of your days as a nursing student on a busy medical-surgical unit come flooding back. You recall Linda, the RN who welcomed you with a warm smile and introduced you to your patient. That initial touch instilled a sense of confidence that you really needed that day. Linda made a point to talk to you throughout the day and even invited you to observe a bedside procedure. Her professionalism and compassion for her patient left such a positive impression that even today you find yourself emulating her.Then, you remember another day during nursing school that was completely different. When you tried to introduce yourself to the nurse assigned to your patient, she cut you off mid-sentence. While giving you a report on your patient, she rushed through the details without making eye contact. But the worst moment came when you were fumbling nervously with a BP cuff. "Haven't you learned how to take a BP yet? Here, let me do it," the nurse said brusquely. You controlled your emotions at the time, but all the way home you wondered whether nursing was the right choice for you.But you did stay in nursing—and vowed you'd never treat a nursing student that way if you were ever lucky enough to have one assigned to you.Modeling Linda's behavior, you welcome the student with a warm smile. This article explores what else you can do to make sure the student has a positive experience on your unit. (See Rewards of mentoring.)One of the first steps is to greet students warmly. They've probably been instructed to introduce themselves to the nurses but may be afraid to interrupt. By smiling and making eye contact with students, you give them an opportunity to speak. If you're busy at that moment, let the students know approximately when you'll

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