What Are Nursing Clinicals?

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Do you have questions about nursing clinicals at Xavier University? This blog sheds a light on nursing school clinical rotations, their purpose, how they work, and how to get the most out of your experience. Learn how clinicals at Xavier stand out as well.

smiling Xavier nursing student

No matter where you go to nursing school, nursing clinicals are at the heart of your education because they allow you to gain real-world experience in diverse practice settings, from hospitals to mental health facilities to rehabilitation centers.

So, what are clinicals in nursing school? Overall, clinicals are active learning environments where you perform tasks a nurse would typically do in any given situation — all taking place under the watchful eye of a clinical instructor or assigned preceptor. Nursing clinicals also help you develop your confidence in applying your individual skills and working with others in interdisciplinary patient care situations.

In Xavier University’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program, you will have the opportunity to gain a quality clinical rotation experience while completing nursing school in as few as 16 months.

How Do Nursing School Clinical Rotations Work?

As a Xavier ABSN student, your first clinical focuses on the basics of nursing practice, such as patient safety and head-to-toe assessments. You can expect to go into your first clinical feeling nervous until you get used to your surroundings.

Don’t be surprised if you’re uncomfortable every time you enter a new practice setting. After all, our ABSN students go to several clinical sites during their 16 months in nursing school. You’ll find that our nursing clinicals support a wide range of learning objectives. While you’re covering the foundations of nursing care in the first semester, we sequence your clinicals to follow a natural learning progression. So as your studies advance, your clinicals become more complex.

During your final weeks of nursing school, you’ll participate in a role transition experience that allows you to gain concentrated clinical experience working alongside a preceptor. A preceptor is a registered nurse trained to mentor nursing students. You’ll work the same shifts as your preceptor, and as you refine your nursing skills, you’ll start to take an active, if not primary, role in patient care.

“By the end of the program, you’re caring for the patient as a whole,” said Lauren, a May 2018 ABSN program graduate. “[Your preceptor] expects you to be doing things like she [or he] would do them. You can’t go into the role transition experience as a student. You have to go in as a nurse.

The first semester of nursing school explained

To learn more about how the nursing program works at Xavier, read about what nursing school is like.

What You Will Learn

Clinical rotations for Xavier accelerated nursing students begin from the first semester. You’ll assist nurses and medical staff at our various health care facilities and help deliver quality patient care in many specialty areas including:

  • Adult and Older Adult Health.
  • Obstetrics and Pediatrics.
  • Intensive and Acute Care.
  • Mental and Behavioral Health.
  • Community and Public Health.
  • Health Promotion and Education.
close up of xavier student putting on gloves

Why Are In-Person Clinicals So Important?

A common question about the ABSN program at Xavier is why the program is hybrid rather than completely online. Nursing is a hands-on career, and there are many things that cannot be entirely learned through direct instruction. This is why in-person clinicals are so important. Think of it as an apprenticeship before becoming a nurse.

How to Make the Most of Clinicals

Since clinicals are central in the preparation for your nursing career, you should make sure that you get the most out of clinicals that you possibly can. What you glean from your clinicals is entirely up to you, and there are ways to make sure that you maximize your time there.

  • Speak up. Making a good first impression is top of mind for accelerated nursing students. Still, you don’t have to be an expert immediately. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you ask questions if you have any. It’s your responsibility to learn and experience as much as you can during your clinical rotations.
  • Prepare in advance. It’s a good idea to prepare for your clinical rotations in advance by gaining an understanding of each clinical location’s mission and values, as well as basic knowledge of the field you will be working in. For instance, if your clinical covers obstetrics, you should research pregnancy issues.
  • Put in the work. Don’t show up and simply wait to be assigned something to do. If you can, hit the floor and look over patient charts beforehand and plan your day. Be ready to spend your entire clinical time working and participating, because every minute is a learning experience that will help prepare you for a career in nursing.

Clinical Rotations at Xavier University

Each ABSN program will have a different structure and style to its nursing clinicals. At Xavier University, we instill purpose into everything we do, including clinical rotations. Here are some details about what makes clinicals at Xavier stand out.

xavier absn student grabbing supplies

When You Begin Clinicals

While in our full-time, four-semester ABSN program, your clinical practice starts during semester one. You will take what you learn in lab and then apply it in a health care setting shortly thereafter. In the beginning, clinical practice is primarily lab focused; but as time goes on, you can expect less lab time and more practicum hours.

Our Clinical Partnerships

When scheduling clinical placements, several variables are involved, particularly on the side of the health care partner. Hence, we often use random selection when assigning students to partner locations. But given that several of our network-based health care partners have achieved Magnet status (the gold standard of nursing excellence) at one or more of their hospitals, you should feel confident that our clinical placements are top-notch.

Support from Xavier Instructors

To produce well-educated, skilled nurses who can deliver safe, high-quality services, it is critical that students learn from instructors who not only implement effective teaching strategies, but also provide support and encouragement. As an ABSN student, you will find our instructors work hard to provide positive clinical experiences that are innovative and appropriate. They focus on facilitating your progress from fundamental to advanced clinical competence.

Outcomes of Clinical Rotations

Our clinical placements, when combined with rigorous theory courses, help prepare you to sit for the NCLEX-RN® licensure exam with confidence. These experiences also do an excellent job of priming you for an entry-level nursing position.

xavier absn student listening in stethoscope

Xavier University School of Nursing Director Susan Schmidt says Xavier students are often offered positions at one of the partner sites where they had a practicum experience. If they do not have jobs lined up before graduation, they typically do within a few months of passing the NCLEX-RN. This opportunity for its students to network is part of what makes the Xavier clinical experience unique.

Xavier University campus sign

Curious to know more about what makes Xavier stand apart? Here is more information about why Xavier is known for nursing.

Now that we have helped you answer your nursing clinicals questions, get help answering any other questions and contact our admissions team today.