How often have you said to your students, “don’t just memorize this, but learn it for life”? I know that I say it almost every day, but does it really stick? I can honestly answer that. Teaching throughout both the Practical Nursing and Associate Degree Nursing programs from start to finish, the answer to that is NO!!!!!!! Well, alright, we always have SOME students who do commit their skills to memory and never forget what step comes when; but, we also have those students who memorize the check off list and forget it the minute the check off is complete. How can we get our students to understand that we really are speaking the truth? How could I, the instructor, assist my students in reviewing their skills and truly understanding what the steps are? And more importantly, why is it important for them to remember their skills steps? Well, let me tell you!
After my students take their State Board exam for nursing(NCLEX), I often follow up with them and ask questions as to how the Boards went. I ask questions that are very detailed oriented: what kind of questions did you have, how many were “select all that apply”, how many of each type/area of nursing(pharmacology, Med/Surg, Mental Health, OB, Fundamentals, Math, etc). and so on. I believe this helps me to develop new activities that will prep my students for the biggest exam of their lives and familiarize themselves with what to expect. Imagine my surprise this year, when I learned that the NCLEX exam had several of my students put nursing skills in the correct order of performance! Immediately, I knew exactly what I was going to do to assist my students to be successful in this area! Basic Nursing Skills is taught in the first semester of both programs and I teach the clinical that is associated with that class: Introduction to Clinical Practice. This clinical is taught in the long-term care environment. There are times that this clinical has some “down-time” and I knew this activity would be perfect to complete at this level! I have taken the Basic Nursing Skills check off lists, cut out each individual step and placed them on flashcards. During clinical, I will randomly give a student a set of flashcards with the directions to place them in correct chronological order! What an amazing opportunity to take the classroom learning and apply it to the real-life clinical setting; in the words of a wise Nurse Educator, “This is where the rubber meets the road”! I cannot wait to try this during the semester. Completing this teaching strategy will allow me to assist my students in being successful. Repeatedly exposing them to the nursing skills will allow them to commit these important tasks to memory and help them to be prepared for their NCLEX exam! Stay tuned for the results!