The Clinical Readiness Camp (CRC) at American University of Health Sciences begins during the second quarter of the BSN program. The CRC is known among students as “boot camp,” it consists of nearly seven “stations” set up to replicate the hospital environment. This event is one of the first skills assessments nursing students are required to participate in; students must demonstrate critical thinking skills and psychomotor competency to advance within the program.
Usually, the days leading up to students’ first CRC are wrought with anxious feelings jumbled with excitement. All students are assigned to one of two on-site laboratory’s and grouped according to two-time schedules; one early in the morning followed by afternoon slots; the students begin to file in with their Clinical Readiness Camp rubrics in hand. As the name implies, the rubric for the camp is a systematic breakdown of how professional nursing skills are to be performed. The concepts of patient safety, sterile technique, safe medication administration, precision in calculating dosages as well as many other skills are assessed. It is interesting to observe the interaction among students awaiting their turn to take the “stage” and perform the aforementioned skills. Many of the students are in their own head, rehearsing their moves and perfecting their knowledge sets. There are breaks in concentration. The breaks are especially notable when one student turns toward their classmate to offer kind and sincere words of encouragement.
The hallways and lounge areas surrounding the labs are buzzing with bits of medical knowledge. If one person is unsure of where to place an EKG lead, another person is willing to clarify by offering personal experience or a mnemonic to ease recall and skill performance. Such an example of EKG placement is: “smoke over fire, “clouds over grass,” and “chocolate is near to my heart.” As students begin to exit the lab after their turn for skill performance, it is delightful to see the look of relief on their faces as well as the sense of accomplishment. One of the underlying foundations of AUHS’ nursing program is teamwork, and this shows on a daily basis among the student body. Of course, there will always be individuals who may not have done so well, or maybe they’re extra hard on themselves (not unheard of in nursing school) however, students in this program are aware of why lending a helping hand when needed, is beneficial to everyone.
It cannot be stressed enough at how vital CRC is to the success of students. Professor Victoria Abatay, BSN faculty, stated that “refreshing fundamental nursing skills every ten weeks is important. It builds confidence, and better prepare students for their clinical experience. Being able to speak up at the clinic site and say to your assigned nurse, “Yes, I am confident in starting that IV”, “I can hang that IV bag” or “Yes, I am confident in placing that NG tube” makes the student more useful where they can gain the experience they are looking for”. CRC is unique to AUHS in that not all schools offer the opportunity to refresh basic skills on a regular basis. Magdalena Ruvalcaba, BSN student, feels that “CRC is stressful, and chaotic, with students all over the place, stressing out and fearful of failing, I think there should be some sort of “time out” and more organization to the day. But, I guess that does go with the territory in nursing school. What I really enjoy is that during CRC we (students) can see how other nursing professors perform their skills and their willingness to educate throughout the process; it’s always better learn under encouragement rather than to be discouraged”.
Overall, today’s CRC was a whirlwind experience, anxiety, excitement, frustration and a sense of accomplishment all rolled into one eight-hour day. Today was all about facing one’s fears: fear of failure and fear of success. It is a humbling experience to do what you love and know that there is a lot more to be learned. Thus far, all of the nursing faculty and staff have been nothing but great in their ability to share nursing expertise and skill with their students. Here at AUHS everyday is a journey filled with knowledge, wonderment, fear, and progress. Each day brings students here at AUHS closer to their dreams of making a difference in the lives of others.