You have to learn somehow, and no matter how much you practice procedures on mannequins, there’s nothing quite like practicing on a real person.

But what if that real person is you or your classmates?

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Do Nursing Students Practice on Each Other?

Nursing students do practice certain procedures on each other such as IM and SQ injections, starting IVs, and other non-invasive procedures like physical assessments. These are done under the supervision of a nursing faculty.

Why Do Nursing Students Practice on Each Other?

Nursing students practice on each other because practicing on mannequins and fruits for procedures are great for getting a rhythm on what you’re supposed to do. But it doesn’t quite emulate the real thing.

For example, many nursing programs will have students practice IV sticks on a mannequin or a piece of fruit like an orange.

This allows the student to learn the theory and the motion behind starting an IV but starting it on a person is different.

The mannequin, for instance, just sits there regardless of how much you dig around looking for “their vein” real patients won’t really hold still, and some of them will try to jerk their hands away.

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Check out The Nursing Student Academy. A supplemental learning platform that helps fill in the gaps those nursing textbooks leave out (or make it difficult to find).

What Procedures Do Nursing Students Practice on Each Other?

As a nursing student, you may practice invasive procedures like IV sticks, IM injections, and fingersticks on another nursing student. You may also get a chance to practice non-invasive procedures like a physical assessment.

What you get to do will vary from one nursing program to another. Some nursing programs may allow you to do more, while others may not allow you to practice on each other. Ask your nursing faculty to be sure of what your program does allow.

Related: How to Deal with Stress in Nursing School

Do You Have to Let Your Nursing School Peers Practice on You?

You should consider letting your peers practice on you, assuming it’s under the supervision of a faculty member, but you will more likely than not be able to get out of it (at least for the invasive procedures) if you don’t want to.

I didn’t allow any of my student peers to practice on me, and that wasn’t held against me in nursing school.

Why I Think Practicing on Each Other in Nursing School is a Good Think

1. It’s one of the best peer learning opportunities in nursing school.

As I mentioned, learning on a mannequin or another inanimate object is not the same thing as a real person.

You get a lot more helpful feedback working with a real person than you would otherwise.

2. You’re practicing in a controlled clinical learning environment.

Practicing in your simulation lab is nice because it’s a more controlled environment than a hospital setting.

If you haven’t been on your clinicals yet, trust me, you’ll understand what I mean once you do. But the beauty of that is that it will allow you to focus and be less stressed as you’re learning.

3. You get a taste of how being a patient feels.

I think being able to relate to patients is important because I think it makes you more empathic, and I think it allows you to better your nursing practice.

I’ll give you an example. One of the things patients complain about is that when nurses start IVs, they’ll dig in their arm with the needle looking for the vein.

Digging for a vein typically happens either because the nurse is not very good at IVs or the patient is a difficult stick or a combination of the two. The end result is an uncomfortable moment for the patient.

If you have a nursing student that starts digging in your arm with a needle, you’ll quickly realize this is not very comfortable. It will make you realize the importance of improving your phlebotomy skills to prevent your patients from feeling this way.

As a side note, here’s a helpful video on just that.

I also wrote an article comparing the differences between a collapsed vein vs a blown vein.

4. You’re under the supervision of a registered nurse.

Technically, they’re probably all doctorates or advanced practice nurses, but the point is you’re being watched by licensed nurses, and you get a chance to learn and ask questions that will help you improve your skills down the road.

For the 99% of Nursing Students Who Hate Reading Textbooks

Check out The Nursing Student Academy. A supplemental learning platform that helps fill in the gaps those nursing textbooks leave out (or make it difficult to find).

Learn as Much as You Can

While as scary as this might be, know that not every school does this, and if they do the invasive procedures, you can probably get out of it if you really want.

It’s a great learning opportunity, so if you can, try to do it even if you are a little nervous.

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