What Is a Nursing Practicum?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A nursing practicum provides nursing students with an opportunity to integrate theory and clinical practice under supervision from a mentor. This usually takes place at the end of nursing school, as students are preparing to graduate and enter professional practice. It includes a mixture of hands-on clinical experience, lab work, and classroom education to help students improve their skills. Typically a certain number of units in a nursing practicum are required for graduation and people need to meet a clinical hours requirement before they can apply for their professional licenses.

Clinical rotations can provide nursing students the opportunity to work in a variety of settings, such as psychiatric and pediatric units.
Clinical rotations can provide nursing students the opportunity to work in a variety of settings, such as psychiatric and pediatric units.

One part of the practicum involves direct patient care, where student nurses meet with patients, evaluate them, and participate in treatment. They are typically required to keep logs, develop treatment plans, and work with the rest of the team. Clinical rotations can provide opportunities to move through a variety of settings, including specialized environments like pediatric and psychiatric units.

A practicum experience is designed to provide you with an opportunity to see how the material and information you learn in a classroom apply to real world settings.
A practicum experience is designed to provide you with an opportunity to see how the material and information you learn in a classroom apply to real world settings.

In addition, during a nursing practicum, people may work in a lab. They can practice clinical skills in the lab as well as participating in other activities. This aspect of nursing education also includes seminars and discussions where nurses learn about different topics, present cases, and discuss their experiences. The goal is to help them apply the theoretical education they received to real-world situations, so they can be effective nurses after graduation.

During a nursing practicum, students typically need to follow facility-specific policies, in addition to guidelines set by their schools.
During a nursing practicum, students typically need to follow facility-specific policies, in addition to guidelines set by their schools.

Schools of nursing may have their own attached hospitals as well as relationships with regional facilities to provide clinical experiences for students. During their practicum, people typically need to follow facility-specific policies in addition to guidelines set by their schools. For example, they may be required to wear identification badges so people know who they are, in addition to introducing themselves as student nurses so patients and others understand their role in patient care.

One part of the nursing practicum involves direct patient care.
One part of the nursing practicum involves direct patient care.

After a nursing practicum is complete, participants are graded on performance. This can include a mixture of criteria including level of participation, professionalism, compliance with medical ethics, and demonstrated knowledge and skills. People who do not pass the practicum will need to repeat it, which can delay a license application because they typically need clinical experience to become fully licensed nurses.

A nursing practicum involves direct patient care, where student nurses meet with patients, evaluate them and participate in treatment.
A nursing practicum involves direct patient care, where student nurses meet with patients, evaluate them and participate in treatment.

If problems arise on a nursing practicum, they can be brought up with a supervisor. These may include issues like the need for disability accommodations or help with personality conflicts with supervising personnel. A mentor can evaluate the situation and make a determination about how to proceed to ensure the student has a chance to be educated while keeping the practicum experience fair for all participants.

One aspect of a nursing student's practicum may be evaluating a patient's vital signs.
One aspect of a nursing student's practicum may be evaluating a patient's vital signs.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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