Nursing is a profession where you need to be extremely flexible and able to roll with the punches. After all, unpredictability may be the only thing that is predictable about the job, which is why having diverse, well-rounded clinical experiences in nursing school is so important. Here’s what you can expect from the clinicals offered through our 16-month ABSN program.
As a student in our ABSN program, which has site locations near Boston and in Charlotte, you’ll complete a rigorous blend of online coursework, hands-on nursing labs, and in-person clinical rotations. While the online coursework and nursing labs set the foundation for your education and skills development, it’s the clinical rotations that really give you a feel for the profession.
“Talking about a nursing concept is one thing, but it’s really important to see it in the real world,” said Ellen, a current student in our Charlotte ABSN program. “Clinicals allow us to see firsthand what it’s truly like to be a nurse.”
Our ABSN program will introduce you to a variety of clinical settings across the healthcare continuum, with your first rotation taking place in the first semester. You’ll find that we partner with both big-name hospitals and small suburban healthcare facilities so that you gain a broad perspective of the nursing profession, as well as experience the different practice areas within the occupation, including:
As you navigate through the various clinical rotations, you’ll probably find something special you like about each one. You may even have a tough time trying to decide what area of practice to go into after graduation.
Like most nursing schools, we can’t guarantee your placement in a specific hospital or healthcare facility. When it comes to scheduling student rotations, there are several factors at play, especially on the part of our clinical partners. Thus, where you get your clinical experiences will depend on factors such as staff nurse availability and patient acuity.
What we can guarantee, however, is that we’ll place you in quality clinical environments that are conducive to learning and that promote your personal and professional development. Studies have shown that positive clinical experiences are more likely related to how valued and supported a student feels than to the physical aspects of the placement.
A common misconception among nursing students is that the best clinical experiences only happen in big-name hospitals. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, there are several variables at play when it comes to patient care, making it impossible for students to encounter the exact same experiences everywhere. You might actually see more diverse patients in a community hospital or gain more in-depth experience in a smaller healthcare facility.
Clinical experiences are like the luck of the draw. Some of what you’ll see and do comes from simply being in the right place at the right time. Let’s say, for example, your cohort is studying women and families. You go to one hospital and happen to experience an emergency C-section, while a fellow student at a different hospital may not.
As an ABSN student, you’ll complete six clinical rotations, each one comprising 72 hours of practical experience. During these rotations, you can expect to perform health assessments, develop care plans, and take vitals, under the watchful eye of an instructor.
Every time you enter a new clinical setting, it’s normal to feel uncomfortable until you become familiar with your surroundings. Also keep in mind that these experiences aren’t just about learning new skills, they’re also about how well you consistently provide safe, competent, and compassionate care in all types of situations. For example, let’s say you mastered nasogastric tube insertion during your first clinical; you’re still expected to apply this skill repeatedly throughout the program.
In the final weeks of the program, you’ll complete a preceptorship, which is also known as a role transition experience. Under the guidance of a preceptor, who is a registered nurse, you’ll gain concentrated clinical experience in a particular area of practice. You’ll work the same shifts as your preceptor, and as you refine your skills, you’ll take an active, if not primary, role in patient care.
See what these ABSN graduates had to say about their clinical experiences in nursing school.
Stephen considered clinicals to be the best part of nursing school. While in the program, he completed clinical rotations at big-name hospitals in Boston and a smaller community hospital outside of the city.
While he says all of his clinical experiences were amazing and incredible, he particularly valued his time at Lowell General Hospital, an independent, not-for-profit community hospital. It was here where he got to work in the intensive care unit, septum-cardiac unit, and the orthopedic post-op floor.
While some of his classmates had rotations at a large teaching hospital, Stephen enjoyed his placement at Lowell General Hospital because he got to do a lot more hands-on work than others in his cohort.
“I could literally do almost everything at Lowell General, which was really cool,” he noted.
Megan was impressed with the wide range of clinical rotations she was able to complete through our ABSN program. While she knew there was no guarantee in terms of her preferred placement location, she appreciated that we tried our best to accommodate students in terms of where they wanted to go.
“I loved every single one of my clinicals for different reasons. I couldn’t have asked for better clincal instructors or people to work with,” she said. “I learned so much during my preceptorship. I got to work twelve, 12-hour shifts on the floor and took care of patients by myself.”
As someone who wants to be a labor and delivery nurse, Patti absolutely loved her first clinical, which focused on women and families.
Being a first-semester student, Patti was surprised by all of the skills she was able to apply in this clinical.
She helped with operating room tasks, assisted a mom and newborn in recovery, and performed post-partum checks.
“I came home giddy the day I was able to observe a C-section,” she said.
If we’ve piqued your curiosity with this post, you can learn more about the diverse clinical experiences we provide to our ABSN students by contacting our admissions team.