Clinicals provide nursing school students with the opportunity to obtain experience in the field while they are working toward their degree or diploma. They are often one of the most important aspects of nursing school because clinicals allow students to get real-world training and a glimpse into their future work environment.
As a nursing student, you can take as little or as much as you’d like from your clinicals. The experience you gain ultimately depends on your readiness to learn. Over the course of your clinical rotations, you will likely work in every healthcare specialty, from emergency care to pediatrics.
The key to making the most of your clinicals is being prepared, following your training and listening to your nursing mentors. Starting clinicals for the first time can be intimidating, but in time, you will begin to feel more confident and comfortable in the healthcare settings you visit.
Why Are Clinicals So Important for Nursing School Students?
Textbooks and lectures can only get you so far. In order to be prepared and ready to pursue your career in healthcare, you need hands-on experience with actual patients in legitimate healthcare facilities. Clinicals allow you to shadow other nurses, interact with patients and learn critical compliance-related rules and regulations.
When Do Clinicals Start and How Long Do They Last?
In most cases, clinicals begin once you complete your general education courses. A nursing student typically starts their clinicals with general nursing to help acclimate them to the healthcare environment and ease them into engaging and caring for patients and their families.
Clinicals take place in addition to your typical classes and coursework and usually occur in your first or second semester. Most nursing programs require 120 to 140 hours of clinical rotation per semester in order to complete the program.
What Are Nursing Students Responsible for During Clinicals?
Clinicals look different for every nursing student depending on the tasks they’ve been assigned and what healthcare specialty their clinical is under. Most nursing students work several clinical shifts a week, each lasting anywhere from five to eight hours.
Common clinical responsibilities for nursing students include:
- Prepping hospital rooms for incoming patients (i.e., changing bed linens, disinfecting all high-touch surfaces, etc.)
- Obtaining patients’ vital signs and medical history
- Maintaining patients’ medical charts
- Performing health assessments and physical examinations
- Shadowing and assisting registered nurses (RNs) with various procedures (i.e., inserting IVs or Foley catheters)
- Calculating and administering medication doses as instructed by the RN
- Creating nursing care plans during each shift
How Are Clinicals Factored into Your Grade?
While every nursing program will have its own grading system, attendance and participation are the greatest influences when it comes to clinical grading. In addition to your attendance and participation, the quality of your nursing care plans may also influence your grade.
The goal of clinicals is to prepare you for working as an RN on your own once you’ve passed the NCLEX. If you study well and apply what you learn during your clinicals, your grade should ideally reflect your nursing abilities.
What Are the Benefits of Nursing School Clinicals?
- Eases your nerves and boosts your confidence
- Strengthens your ability to empathize with patients and their families
- Helps develop your nursing style and strategy
- Opens the door for networking with hospital staff, managers and charge nurses
- Creates an opportunity for feedback and learning (i.e., clinical evaluations)
- Reinforces a team-oriented mindset and exercises your ability to collaborate
Earn Your Practical Nursing Diploma from St. Louis College of Health Careers (SLCHC) in Missouri
Our accredited four-semester long Practical Nursing Diploma offers students a comprehensive education complete with academically challenging coursework and hands-on clinical practice.
At SLCHC, our LPN program is flexible and accommodating for those with busy schedules who would benefit from evening or online classes.
Apply to our LPN program or explore other healthcare degrees by calling 866-529-2070.