Step outside of school to sharpen skills
Nursing students prioritize leadership and communication skills
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EDITOR'S NOTE: Alexander Salinas is a senior nursing student at the University at Buffalo. He is the Multicultural Nursing Association president, and is a research assistant for a study on chronic pain and opioid use and a study on obesity prevention.
As a nursing student, exploring experiential learning and developing interpersonal skills are just as important as your academics.
We need to prioritize improving our leadership and communication skills from day one at nursing school. Clinical skills alone are only part of what tips the scales from becoming a good to a great nurse. Engaging in at least one of the following tips will give you a step up the ladder and make you a more competent nurse.
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As the president of the Multicultural Nursing Student Association at my university, I work with the organization to find beneficial ways to enhance the student experience and promote diversity. To broaden the student experience, we are collaborating with local hospitals on internship opportunities. We also hold workshops and host social events, such as a potlucks. Support your student organizations and become an active member, and consider running for a board position.
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By Alexander Salinas
Student blogger
Join your school nursing organization
Volunteer in your community
Volunteering in your community during nursing school gives you a preview of the population you will serve and what their clinical needs might be. You’ll gain a better understanding of the current issues the community faces, including health concerns. Contact preventive health organizations for information on volunteering. They are always looking for students’ help.
Network with local associations
You may find several nursing associations in your area, and some may focus on a specialty you are interested in pursuing. Introduce yourself and network within the association to get you a foot in the door and create new connections to nurses who soon will be your colleagues. Some of these nursing associations offer a student discount membership.
Explore a particular topic or health outcome that piques your interest as an undergraduate and get involved in a research project. Engaging in research activities also complements your nursing curriculum studies. Your university may have research teams or a faculty member who is already studying a topic that interests you. As a research assistant for my school of nursing, I was able to successfully disseminate my research at regional and national nursing conferences and meet graduate and undergraduate students conducting research at their nursing schools. What are your ideas for becoming involved in your community and the nursing profession? Share them with your fellow students; they may have ideas you can try as well!
Visit your clinical placement location
At your clinical placement location ask if you can attend unit-based council meetings to gain a greater understanding of how the unit works and hear about successes the staff has had, as well as challenges they’re experiencing. In these meetings, you can find out how nurses see the bigger picture on how to improve quality and care for their unit.
Take on a research project
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Volunteering in your community during nursing school gives you a preview of the population you will serve and what their clinical needs might be."
- Alexander Salinas
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