How Long Are Nursing Clinicals?
The amount of time it takes to complete nursing clinical rotations could be affected by your state's licensure requirements, your specific degree program and whether or not your school has a waiting list for required clinical experiences. Continue reading to learn more about these factors and the ways in which they might influence the length of your nursing clinicals.
State Requirements for Nursing Clinical Lengths
Clinical work is required for licensure. Each state sets its requirements for registered nursing licensure. These requirements almost always include education stipulations such as the number of credit hours and the length of clinical training experiences. Generally, schools design their nursing programs based upon the requirements of the state in which they are located.
In Hawaii, for example, the state's administrative rules require that you complete 120 semester credits of study for a bachelor's degree or 64 semester credits for an associate's degree in nursing, with 40% of the credits in either program coming from clinical instruction (www.hawaii.gov). In Massachusetts, according to the Board of Registration in Nursing, programs need to have at least 540 credit hours of clinical experience (www.mass.gov).
Important Facts About Nursing
|Prerequisites||clinical rotations are typically a part of degree programs; prerequisites vary by program|
|Online Availability||Fully online coursework except for practicum|
|Continuing Education||Required to maintain certification; available in person and online|
|Possible Careers||Legal nurse consultant, sexual assault nurse examiner, licensed practical nurse|
|Median Salary (2018)||$71,730 (for all registered nurses)|
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)||15% growth (for all registered nurses)|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Individual Program Length
A program's structure also affects how long clinicals last. For example, programs may have specific weeks set aside during which you are scheduled to work at a medical facility. In this situation, you may work designated hours such as 9 am-5 pm each day during the clinical period, allowing you to satisfy the clinical-hour requirements over a specified amount of time.
Programs may also assign you to work with a specific nurse as a preceptor during your clinical rotations. In this case, your schedule will usually mirror that of the nurse, so you may work different hours and days of the week. Undertaking clinical training this way may extend the length of time it takes to complete the required number of hours.
Some schools may have waiting lists for admission to nursing programs or for the clinical portions of their programs. Clinical rotations are often located at local hospitals or medical facilities, and, because of this, schools may have to work around the schedules of health care institutions in order to set up clinicals. Additionally, there may be a limited number of licensed nurses in some facilities, which could limit the number of students who can attend each rotation and be properly supervised.
It is also important to note that most nursing programs have strict entrance requirements. If you don't meet these requirements when you apply to the program, you may end up on a program's waiting list. In this situation, you may only be accepted into the program if a student drops out. If no openings become available, you may end up having to wait until the next program start date.