What to Expect from Nursing School Clinicals

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One of the most important parts of your Accelerated BSN education will be your nursing school clinical experiences. Coupled with your online classes and simulation labs, your clinicals will take place at some of Boston’s top health care facilities, where you can work with real patients.

But what can you really expect from your nursing clinical experiences? Stephen, a recent Northeastern University ABSN graduate and a currently-working registered nurse, offers his own advice for nursing students on what to expect from nursing school clinicals and how to prepare for these important days.


My Nursing School Clinicals Experience

One of the most exciting parts of nursing school will be the clinical application. All of your studying leads up to the moment where you are in front of your patients and apply the knowledge you have gained. It is a terrifying moment, but with a strong foundation from Northeastern, you will exceed expectations.

I remember the first time I had to go to clinical. I arrived an hour and a half early because I was afraid of traffic and sat outside attempting to memorize lab values. I later found out that this was “extreme.” You will not be expected to describe the pathways of the nervous system on your first day or have every value of the body committed to memory. Clinical is a place where you solidify these concepts by applying them to the disease process. When it clicks, I guarantee you'll smile from ear to ear.

Northeastern provides a unique opportunity in the Boston area to experience the best health care institutions in the nation. This can be intimidating as you walk through the doors of MGH or Children's Boston.

What to Expect from Nursing School Clinicals: 5 Tips to Succeed

So you may be wondering how to prepare for this experience. Let’s discuss a few pointers to help prepare you to excel in the clinical experience.

Here are five ways to help you succeed.

  1. Be on time. As the old saying goes - If you're early, you're on time. If you're on time, you're late. Commuting should be taken into account. Wake up early and look at the train schedule, get gas the night before, and be prepared to discuss what you're learning in school with your clinical instructors.
  2. Leading off the last comment - be prepared. You will not be expected to know information that you have not been taught, but having said that had a base knowledge of the material you have already gone over in class. By doing this your clinical instructors will be able to help you build on your foundation and you will succeed not only in clinical, but in your class work.
  3. Interact with the staff in a professional manner. Each clinical you do is a job interview. If the nurses see you working hard they will be your foot in the door to your first job. Many of my classmates and I were given positions as nursing aides at clinical sites after our rotations and then promoted to the role of the nurse upon completion of school and the NCLEX.
  4. Eat a full meal and sleep at least 8 hours the night before. If you do not it will be the day you are sent to the OR to watch a procedure and it is not a good combo. By taking care of yourself you are going to be prepared for anything at your clinical site.
  5. Finally - enjoy your clinical experience and always smile. This is the only time in your career where you can ask as many questions as you would like and be expected to do so. Your sole purpose is to learn and enjoy your time. Additionally, if you're having fun your patients, instructors, and nurses on the floor will be more likely to bring you into interesting procedures. It is a win/win situation.

Clinicals will be the best part of your nursing school career. You have the time to make an impact on your patients and I encourage you to be an advocate for those who you are caring for. Interact with staff, be pleasant, and enjoy your time. I have no doubts that you will succeed.

Till next time,


Want to know more about what to expect from nursing school clinicals at Northeastern University? Speak to an admissions counselor today to learn about what you will be doing in clinicals, when you will start, and how your clinicals tie in closely to your online classes.

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