What Are Clinicals in Nursing School?

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If you have questions like, "what are clinicals in nursing. school?" we at Madonna ABSN are here to answer them. Learn how nursing clinicals work what to expect, what it will require from you, and why they are so important in your nursing education.

group of registered nurses

When first starting out as a nursing student, you will likely have many questions about what it will be like. This is an exciting new opportunity, so you might not be entirely sure what to expect in nursing school.

A significant part of your nursing program will be your nursing clinicals, so it is perfectly normal to have questions about this new experience. At Madonna University’s Accelerated Second Degree Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program, we want to prepare you to have a long and thriving career as a nurse. This means preparing you with practical experiences in your clinical rotations.

So what are clinicals in nursing school and how can you be ready for them? Here are answers to some questions that you may have about clinicals at Madonna.

older nurse talking to patient in hospital bed

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What Are Clinicals?

Clinical rotations are an essential part of your nursing school experience. You will learn a great deal from your coursework and simulation labs, but clinicals are unique in that you learn to treat actual patients alongside experienced nurses. You will travel to a hospital or other medical facility that collaborates with Madonna University and begin learning more about the profession by seeing it for yourself and gaining diverse patient experiences. This is a stepping stone to graduating and becoming a nurse yourself.

When Do You Start Clinicals?

In traditional nursing programs, most schools don’t have students start nursing clinicals until the second year of their education. However, our Accelerated BSN program lets you start interacting with patients at the end of your first semester. Many prospective ABSN students look at this as a huge advantage because starting nursing clinicals sooner helps you build confidence earlier. The process provides insight on what’s expected of you not only as a nursing student, but as a registered nurse.

Nurse in hallway smiling and talking with patient

Following suit with your online coursework and hands-on skills and simulation labs, your nursing clinicals are sequenced to follow a natural learning progression. Your first nursing clinical, holistic mental health nursing care, will focus on the basics of nursing, such as:

  • Patient charting
  • Medication Administration
  • Wound dressing changes
  • Taking vitals

In addition to covering the fundamentals of nursing, your first clinical will teach you how to properly communicate and care for experiencing all types of ailments. As your curriculum advances, you’ll find your clinicals to become more involved.

How Do Clinicals Work?

While earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is certainly beneficial to your future in healthcare, Madonna University takes your nursing school education one step further by partnering with Ascension Michigan, a member of Ascension Health. During your clinicals, you will travel to an Ascension Michigan facility to work with professional nurses in a variety of focuses and specialties alongside your cohort peers.

Within this exclusive partnership, you’ll gain real-world experiences while collaborating, communicating and working alongside notable doctors, nurses and fellow staff members. During these clinicals, you will shadow nurses and provide assistance where it is needed.

At Madonna, you will have the opportunity to explore clinical specialties including holistic mental health, medical surgical, acute care, maternity, and population health. During each of these rotations, students get to explore a new area of nursing at a highly reputable medical facility in Michigan.

What Are Clinicals Like?

You will have clinical rotations that range from a clinic setting to the intensive care unit (ICU) to working in pediatrics. Your ability to practice nursing skills within different settings will give you a better understanding of what area of nursing best suits your personality and future career goals.

Madonna nursing student using stethoscope on patient

Beyond the nursing specialties you may think you would like to pursue; it’s crucial that you go into each clinical experience with an open mind to receive the best experience. For example, you may begin clinicals wanting to pursue pediatrics and then completely change your mind after caring for patients in an acute care setting.

No matter what area of nursing you are in, there are skills you can expect to develop during clinicals. You might help nurses make beds, perform patient assessments, help record medical information, and even assist with procedures and administering medication. You are there to learn, but learning through experience is one of the best ways to develop nursing practice skills.

You can expect to handle several things at once soon after beginning your first clinical. From hanging an IV while communicating with your patient’s family members to listening to your patient’s heart sounds while reciting their chart to a physician, anything can and will happen during your nursing clinical.

What Is the Time Commitment for Clinicals?

Because clinicals are such an integral part of your nursing education, they are a heavy time commitment. On days when you have scheduled your clinicals, you can expect to be at the medical facility anywhere from six to 12 hours at a time. This means you’ll have to adapt to a rigorous schedule and learn how to maximize your time to keep up with online coursework and hands-on labs. However, learning how to overcome these challenges is what prepares you to become a successful and confident registered nurse. Not to mention, the staff and faculty members at Madonna will support you each step of the way.

Why Are Clinicals Important?

While your online coursework and labs will give you the knowledge and tools required to be an excellent nurse, clinicals are where you really put what you have learned to practice. The stakes are much higher when working with an actual patient, so it is important that you feel completely confident in your skills before pursuing your licensing. Clinicals help prepare you from the very beginning so that you do not doubt your abilities.

Not only that, but clinicals are also a great time to network and start thinking about where you would like to work after graduating. While employment is never guaranteed, you should treat every nursing clinical like a job interview. You may be nervous at first, but it’s in your best interest to put yourself out there and learn from everyone you can. After all, you never know who may be a future job reference.

Ready to Make the Most of Your Nursing Clinicals?

Madonna nursing student reading textbook

Now that you have answered the question, “what are clinicals in nursing school?” it’s time to explore how you can start your own journey with clinical experiences. By the time you graduate from the 16-month, Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at Madonna University, your extensive clinical practice will leave you feeling prepared and confident to take the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX-RN®).

To learn more about what nursing clinicals are like at Madonna University, contact our admissions team today.