Nursing Clinicals: What to Expect

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During your time in nursing clinicals, you can expect to work with faculty to treat diverse patient populations in myriad situations. Your clinical experience will also immerse you in real-life nursing experiences to give you a better idea of what the day-to-day role of a nurse is like.

nurses with patient in room

If you’re interested in becoming a nurse, you may know that part of the process includes clinical rotations. They are essential to nursing school, including the University of the Incarnate Word’s (UIW’s) Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) track.

Read on for more information on nursing clinicals, what to expect and tips to help it all run smoothly.

What Are Clinicals?

Nursing clinicals allow nursing students to care for patients under the supervision of clinical faculty or preceptors in local healthcare facilities.

How many clinical hours for nursing school are required? While required clinical hours vary, UIW’s ABSN track includes over 900 hours of clinical rotations. Nursing clinicals at UIW build upon the knowledge and skills gained through the curriculum’s other elements in the following ways:

  • Online coursework establishes foundational nursing concepts.
  • Simulation and skills labs allow students to apply nursing concepts, practice nursing skills and participate in clinical scenarios in a risk-free environment.
  • Clinical rotations allow students to apply all they have learned to real patient care under the supervision of healthcare professionals.

In nursing clinicals, students put everything they’ve learned in their courses into action and hone their communication and interpersonal skills in a real-world healthcare setting.

student sitting at desk using laptop

Clinicals can be demanding, but they’re just one aspect of nursing school. Read more to learn why nursing school is hard and how you can succeed.

Why are Clinical Rotations Important?

Nursing school clinicals are important because they are your first experience caring for diverse patient populations in various healthcare settings. They also offer a clearer picture of working as a nurse and allow UIW students to serve their community by providing much-needed patient care.

Other advantages of clinicals include:

  • Networking and job opportunities
  • Exposure to nursing leadership roles beyond the bedside
  • Real-world patient care experiences
  • Development of time management and professional communication skills

It’s essential to take advantage of clinical rotations while you can. Ask instructors lots of questions and get to know the healthcare staff. You may find work at the facility once you graduate and earn your license.

Nursing Clinicals: 6 Tips for Success

UIW’s ABSN track ensures plenty of rich learning opportunities in clinicals, but there are also steps you can take to get the most out of the experience and set yourself up for a rewarding career. Let’s review a few tips to make your clinicals as advantageous as possible.

UIW nursing student in red scrubs checking the time

1. Be Prepared

Before starting clinical rotations, ensure you’re as informed as possible. Practical things like knowing where to park, where to report and who to check in with should be on your mind. Be sure also to review materials supplied by your supervisor, such as a patient’s medical history and treatment plans.

2. Speak Up in Debrief Sessions

During your nursing clinicals, you will discuss and debrief before and after your shifts. These conferences are a great time to ask your clinical instructors questions and learn from mistakes you may have made.

3. Anticipate Needs

If you go into clinicals with an enthusiastic, can-do attitude, your efforts will be noticed. By being on top of the next steps and anticipating needs quickly, you can help make things run smoothly and keep your patients comfortable.

4. Communicate with Staff

Nursing clinicals require you to work with various personality types, from outgoing and friendly to strictly business. You’ll need to learn to communicate effectively with different personalities and build trust.

5. Recognize Opportunities for Improvement

Being open to constructive criticism is key to being successful in clinical rotations. You’re learning, and mistakes are expected. Take pointers and advice seriously, and don’t get down on yourself if you receive feedback.

UIW nursing student with stethoscope

6. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

Remember that your clinical instructor is there to help you learn. If you ever have a procedural question or need clarification, ask. Your preceptors, healthcare staff and peers are great resources.

Are you ready for nursing school? Read more to learn seven tips for preparing for nursing school.

students in class

Are You Ready to Become a Nurse?

Now that you know what to expect from clinicals, it’s time to learn more about UIW’s ABSN track. If you have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree or at least 60 college credits, you can earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in as few as 16 months.

Contact one of our admissions counselors and get the ball rolling on your nursing education.