Preparing for Senior Practicum

It’s that time of year where I know many nursing students are preparing to begin their senior practicum. At my nursing school this is when we were assigned a nurse and worked their shifts with them for 3 full weeks. You can read about my experience on labor and delivery for my senior practicum. I wanted to give some general tips that could help you no matter what unit you are on.

Pandemic Nursing School

First off, take a deep breath! You have made it to the end! This is likely your last clinical experience as a nursing student, congrats! I know things have been difficult being a nursing student during the pandemic- but I am here to tell you that we all felt unprepared when we went to practicum and when we started our first jobs. No matter how many clinical, sim labs, or classes we attended- nothing truly prepares you for being a nurse. You are going to be just fine. You can still be an amazing nurse despite lack of clinical time, online classes, missed sim labs-whatever it may be.

Practicum Placement

There is always a lot of talk that the only way to get a certain specialty or job is through practicum placement, but that’s simply not true. Do not stress about where you have practicum. Yes it’s a great experience and I’m so thankful I got labor and delivery for mine but it is a short amount time and one experience. You can still get into a specialty or unit or whatever you want no matter where you did practicum. And your nursing career is a lot of time. Years. There is way more to it than the new graduate days. I follow a nurse who after 10 years just got her first hospital job and her first job on labor & delivery. If you don’t get the dream job right away- you have time. You can read here about not getting the dream job.

Nursing School Clinical

Practicum Tips:

  • Be early. Just do it.
  • Take initiative. If you hear of an interesting case or procedure, ask if you can observe/assist.
  • Review medications/diagnosis/procedures you may see on your unit. For instance, BP meds, cholesterol meds, insulin, and pain meds for a med/surg unit.
  • Ask questions. This is your last time as a student, learn what you can!
  • Pack plenty of food. Sometimes you don’t have time to make it to a vending machine or cafeteria. And a 12 hour shift (even 8 hours) is looooong. You don’t want to be low on snacks or hydration.
  • Bring a jacket. Even if you are cold natured. The hospital is freezing. And if you’re working night shift, it’s even colder.
  • Help the CNAs when you can, but remember you are there to learn nursing skills and the role of a nurse. Let the CNAs know what you will be doing. If they are rude, take it with a grain of salt and move on.
  • Same goes for rude nurses. Sometimes nurses are overworked, understaffed, and can be not kind. This isn’t okay, but nurses are humans. Again, take it with a grain of salt. (Of course, if you are experiencing lateral violence- report it.)
  • Enjoy knowing you made it to your last clinical and you are months away from being a nurse! Even if practicum isn’t where or what you wanted, try to take in the moment and enjoy what you can.

It’s okay if you don’t love clinical

I’m going to be honest for a second. I did not enjoy many of my clinical. They was a lot of awkwardly waiting around and reviewing charts. 8 students trying to use one vital sign machine. Nurses and CNAs who didn’t want to be bothered with me.  Some clinical experiences were absolutely amazing, but a lot were not. There were times I wondered if I made a mistake going to nursing school. But, I went on to love nursing. I am a caring and competent nurse. I have even precept (train) new graduate nurses and nursing students. Nursing is so different than clinical. It is also broad and has so many different opportunities, you can find something you love.

Good luck on your practicum! Graduation is just around the corner! Please reach out if you have any questions or just need some encouragement! I love connecting with nursing students and new grad nurses!

Blog Post for Senior Nursing Students:

NCLEX 101: How to pass your NCLEX and earn your credentials

My NCLEX Test Day Experience

History and Meaning Behind the Pinning Ceremony

1 thought on “Preparing for Senior Practicum”

My Nursing Journey- CNA to BSN | Peace Love and Nursing

[…] Preparing for Senior Practicum […]

Comments are closed.