How Our Practicum Boosts Your Clinical Skills

How Our Practicum Boosts Your Clinical Skills

While our 16-month ABSN program primarily involves online coursework, we don’t take any shortcuts when it comes to developing your hands-on clinical skills. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. During the full-time, four-semester program, you’ll complete a series of in-person labs that prep you for the six clinical rotations and the preceptorship you must complete as part of the program’s real-world practicum.

Clinical Breakdown

Designed to hone your clinical skills in diverse areas of nursing practice, the below rotations―each one representing 72 hours of practical experience—allow you to assist in patient care while working alongside an instructor and fellow classmates.




Semester 1Women and FamiliesFocused on the health of childbearing women and their families, this clinical has you apply the theories, principles, and concepts you learned during your online studies.
Semester 2Nursing Care of Adults IDuring this clinical, you’ll apply the foundational knowledge you gained online to help care for adult patients with common health problems.
Semester 2Nursing and Promotion of Mental HealthFocused on providing care to individuals, families, and groups with mental health issues, this clinical has you apply the theories, principles, and concepts you learned about this patient segment online.
Semester 3Nursing Care of Adults IIBuilding on the clinical skills you developed in semester 2, this clinical focuses on your application of theories, principles, and concepts that relate to adult patients in increasingly complex situations.
Semester 3Nursing Care of the ChildTaking place in a pediatric setting, this clinical has you apply your online knowledge to the care of acutely and/or chronically ill children and their families.
Semester 4Public Health and Community NursingEmphasizing the application of knowledge when addressing core functions and essential services of public health, epidemiology, and economic concepts, this clinical facilitates your socialization to population-focused nursing so you can develop care plans for entire communities.

Overall, these six clinical rotations expose you to different patient populations in different clinical settings so that by the time you graduate from our ABSN program, you’ll have a good idea of where you’d like to practice the profession. In fact, don’t be surprised if you start nursing school with one idea, such as wanting to work in pediatrics, but then completely change your mind because of a great experience with an adult or senior patient.

Nursing Preceptorship

Pediatric clinical nursing student with patient

During your final semester of the ABSN program, you’ll complete what we call comprehensive nursing practicum. It’s a concentrated clinical practice course that facilitates your transition to professional nursing.

We assign you to a preceptor (a working RN trained to teach students) within a healthcare setting, and he/she will guide you in synthesizing your nursing knowledge and clinical skills when providing care to patients with complex health problems.

“I learned a lot during my preceptorship, working a dozen, 12-hour shifts and taking patients by myself,” said Megan, ABSN program graduate, 2017.

In fact, we expect you to step up and function as a nurse, doing everything an RN would do in a given situation. So during your preceptorship, it’s important to remember that nurses are responsible for every aspect of patient care, which, for example, means you could find yourself feeding and bathing individuals.You’ll work the same shifts as your preceptor, and as you refine your clinical skills in nursing, you’ll take an active, if not primary, role in patient care.

Preceptor-Student Relationship

The relationship you have with your preceptor can make or break your preceptorship, and it’s your responsibility to make sure it’s a successful experience. Therefore, it’s important for you to understand what it means for an RN to serve as your preceptor.

Your preceptor:

  • Doesn’t always know what you’re capable of doing.
  • Can’t take vacation or standby while assigned to you.
  • Doesn’t always recognize when you don’t understand a concept.
  • Wants you to ask questions so he/she knows where your mind is at.
  • Can’t always tell when you feel uncomfortable.
  • Hovers when they know you need help in a certain area.
  • Steps back when you’re ready to fly solo.
  • Needs your feedback to be better at his/her job.

You’ll find that one of the best things you can do during your preceptorship is to start building a strong working relationship with your preceptor on day one.

It’s important that you:

  • Tell your preceptor how you like to learn to maximize your clinical practicum.
  • Ask your preceptor for feedback on your performance at the end of each shift.
  • Get to know your preceptor on a personal level and let them get to know you.

Your preceptor reports back to your clinical instructor and the healthcare facility on your performance, so think of your preceptorship as a time to really shine as a student (and possibly a future employee). The healthcare facility you’re at will know firsthand how you perform as a nurse, making it easier for you to land a job interview after nursing school.

As you can see, clinical practicum plays a significant role in your future success as a nurse. The clinical skills you gain through our accredited ABSN program will leave you feeling confident when entering the workforce. Contact an ABSN program admissions counselor today about accelerating into the nursing profession through Northeastern University.


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