A clinical placement prepares nursing students to transition from life in the classroom to a real-life setting. Whether you’re studying online, in person or hybrid, clinical placement is a key step to earning your nursing certification and licensure.
It exposes you to the real-life challenges of healthcare delivery but under a controlled environment, allowing you to gain first-hand experience in how to manage and cope with those challenges, all within a safety ramp.
As an aspiring nurse, a clinical placement needs to be more than just something to cross off on your to-do list. In this guide, we’ll examine the importance of clinical placement for student nurses and highlight what you can expect from one. We’ll also help you prepare for your placement by sharing some effective tips that’ll help you excel in it.
What Is A Clinical Placement?
A clinical placement introduces you to real-life healthcare settings so you can practice what you learned in class, under the close supervision of a clinical-placement team. You’ll be dealing with real-life patients, helping manage and treat various health challenges in real time.
You’ll mostly be replicating what you’ve already learned, but you’ll also get to learn new things as well, building on your theoretical knowledge.
Your clinical placement could take place in multiple settings, from outpatient clinics to large healthcare facilities, community health centers and nursing homes.
There are no standard hours that must be completed. Depending on your nursing program and licensure requirement, you may have to work many different shifts, and in many different departments of a healthcare facility.
You’d normally be informed of all the details of your clinical placement — from the prerequisites to the details of activities — before you begin your program. A clinical placement team is also assigned to supervise you and create a report during your placement.
Why Is Clinical Placement Important For Aspiring Nurses?
Clinical placement isn’t just a mere formality on your way to graduating from a nursing program. Most of your experience as a nurse in real life will depend on what happens during your clinical experience.
Here are some of the most important benefits of a clinical placement:
Fine-Tuning Your Nursing Skills
No matter how many hours you spend studying nursing, you can never fully prepare for every eventuality in your line of duty. Situations often evolve quite quickly in real life, and things can take unexpected turns.
A clinical placement expands your scope, equipping you to better manage situations that do not fit exactly into the scope of your studies. It helps strengthen your nursing intuition, enabling you to make appropriate decisions even when you don’t have all the information you need at hand.
Build Experience In A Variety Of Settings
You could probably end up working in one healthcare facility throughout your nursing career. However, a clinical placement equips you to excel wherever you might find yourself, whether you end up working in just one or many different settings.
You’ll be put through clinical rotations, working many different shifts in many different departments, from outpatient wards to ICUs, emergency care units, etc.
Enhanced Academic Performance
You might still need to go back to classes after your clinical placement to complete your program. Your clinical experience can significantly improve your understanding of the things you learn in classes, helping you ace your course assessments and final exams.
Clinical placements are often filled with lifetime experiences. You won’t forget what you’ve learned anytime soon. The skills you pick up could help you throughout your career.
For instance, the clinical placement that comes with the ABSN online program from Saint. Joseph’s College of Maine helps you build up your critical thinking, communication and interrelationship skills, as well as self-confidence. These are all qualities that will help you launch out successfully into real-life practice.
What To Expect During A Clinical Trial
Clinical placements differ in style and substance depending on the nursing program you choose. However, they share many common themes. Here’s what you can expect to find in your clinical placement:
Simulation labs: Before stepping into a real-life setting, you might need to spend some time first in a simulation lab. This is a mock-up clinical setting where you can practice various clinical skills with simulations. You can use medical mannequins or task trainers to practice things, like head-to-toe patient assessment, inserting an IV or NG tube, etc.
Real-life clinical rotations: This is where your training takes on a real-life dimension. Here, you’ll be putting your skills to work in a healthcare facility, doing ward rounds, helping diagnose and treat patients, etc., all under the supervision of a clinical team.
Shadowing a staff nurse: At some point in your clinical rotation, your only job might be to shadow a staff nurse, especially when taking on a new set of activities. You’ll only just have to observe how nurses go about their daily duties, in preparation for the baton to be handed over to you.
A clinical instructor: All the while, you’ll be working closely with your clinical instructor. Your clinical instructor will offer hands-on support, giving you real-time feedback, answering all your questions and helping you set and accomplish both short-term and long-term goals.
Tips For Succeeding In Your Clinical Placement
No doubt, your first time out as a nurse in a real-life setting can be quite intimidating. Here are tips to help you keep a level head and earn your stripes:
- Practice time management and better organizational skills so you don’t lose track of anything important.
- Sharpen your curiosity and ask questions whenever you need more clarity.
- Keep an open mind, cultivating your willingness to learn new things.
- Put your skills and knowledge to practice at every opportunity.
- Practice self-care, as well, and take time out for your personal needs.
Ready To Become A Fully Qualified Registered Nurse?
With a clinical placement, you take a huge step toward becoming a certified nurse. You’ll get to fill important skill gaps to fully prepare for the challenges of healthcare delivery in real life.
We’ve discussed the inner workings of clinical placement and what you can expect from one. It can be quite overwhelming for students stepping into a real-life setting for the first time. But we’ve outlined tips to help you hit the ground running and excel in your clinical placement, as well as in your nursing career.