Nursing schools prepare the future generation of nurses and medical professionals. Regardless of where you attend school, you will spend time in the classroom and time in the medical field. While other professions involve advanced degrees before working in the field, as a nursing student, you are ready to enter the workforce immediately after graduating and passing your board and license exam. Before you enter the program of your choosing, you should consider the type of clinical setting where you will work and what tasks the school will expect you to do in that setting.

What are Clinical Experiences?

A clinical experience is a typical part of the nursing school experience. This gives you the chance to work in the field, be around patients and see what life is like for working nurses. Depending on the school, this experience will also let you work directly with patients. You might take vital signs, talk to patients about their medical histories and record data that the doctor will look at when treating the patient. Most schools require that you spend a specific amount of time in the field under the supervision of a nurse before graduating from the program.

Preparing for the First Visit

Many nursing students find themselves worried or concerned about what will happen during their first clinical visit. Preparing for that visit will begin in the classroom. Your nursing instructors will talk to you about what you can expect and what you should do. You generally want to wear comfortable shoes that you can wear for six to eight hours at a time without feeling any discomfort, and the shoes should have nonslip soles as well. Some schools also require that you wear scrubs, and other schools will ask that you purchase specific shoes for your clinical visits.

Trials vs. Observations

The Texas Board of Nursing outlines the differences between clinical trials and observations. An observation is when a nursing student spends time in the field without actually interacting with the patients. This gives you the chance to see how nurses working in the field talk with patients, take vital statistics and perform other duties on the job. You typically start your fieldwork with observational work before moving on to clinical settings. Many schools will assign coursework that you must do during the observation, and you might face an exam after leaving the setting too.

Talking to the School

If you aren’t sure what type of clinical experiences your school offers, take the time to call and ask. You can also talk to the school before you enter the program. Many students find that they want to tour the school and talk to instructors before choosing a college, and you can use this time to ask any questions that you might have. Make sure that you look for the instructors who lead the clinical experiences. These professors can give you an inside look at the program and explain what the schools expect of you in the future.

Clinical experiences are a routine part of the nursing school experience. Most schools ask that you spend time observing nurses in the field before you meet with a single person, but those experiences give you a deeper look at what hospitals and doctors will expect of you later and what you will do on the job.