Nursing Internships and Practicums
January 20, 2022 , Modified on April 26, 2022 · 4 Min Read
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Nursing internships and practicums can help build connections and lead to a successful career. Find out what to expect and where to find the right one for you.
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Nursing internships and practicums provide nursing students with real-world experience that can help their future careers. Internships and practicums take place at hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities near students' schools or, particularly for online learners, their homes.
Nursing Internships versus Clinical Practicums
Both internships and practicums offer clinical training and a hands-on preview of direct patient care. Interns work under the supervision of a registered nurse (RN), learning entry-level nursing skills in a safe environment. Students may intern in the summer, typically during 10-week blocks, or during the school year.
However, internships are usually independent of school requirements and not supervised by faculty. Internship hours do not often count toward clinical requirements for bachelor of science in nursing students which can total 800-1,000 hours. Rather, interns are typically paid and considered an employee of the healthcare practice.
A practicum is a required part of nursing schools and usually paired with a seminar or theory component.
Practicums also involve supervision by an RN but are often supervised by a faculty member too. Tasks tend to be more academically oriented. Practicum hours vary but the time commitments are less than in clinical internships. Practicums are not paid, but the hours will count toward required clinical hours.
What to Expect From Your Nursing Internship or Practicum
Nursing internships and practicums offer different types of experiences within the nursing career. Interns may provide more patient care under supervision. Practicum learners might observe more while assisting healthcare professionals.
Internship and Practicum Experience
Clinical interns take care of real patients in real medical facilities under an assigned preceptor. Their daily duties can include evaluating patients' conditions, administering medication, and assisting patients with bathing, dressing, and eating. Patients may be wary of a student nurse, so students must set them at ease.
Practicums often focus on support tasks, such as updating patients' charts, along with watching nurses' interactions with their patients. Students shadow a nurse or other healthcare mentor and also receive guidance from their professors.
Practicum components may include lab work, classroom learning, and clinical observation. The goal of practicums is to apply theory to the workplace. Students sometimes struggle to complete their practicum hours while juggling other courses and clinical hours.
Nursing student internships and practicums take place in a healthcare setting, where students can gain the experience they need to succeed in their future careers. Potential internship settings include hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, and doctors' offices. Nursing schools help place students in an internship or practicum environment that suits their academic needs and career goals. Online nursing schools can help students find approved internships or practicums located close enough for a practical commute.
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Benefits of a Nursing Internship or Practicum
Nursing internships and practicums offer an inside look at the life of a nurse with the chance to assist and observe. They can also lead to connections and recommendations for jobs after nurse graduation. Finally, these experiences provide the hands-on training that nurses will need to succeed on the job.
Where to Find Nursing Internships
There are several ways of finding nursing internships, including summer nursing internships. Below are a few starting points:
Nursing Internship Opportunities
Brandy Gleason, MSN, MHA, BC-NC, is a nursing professional with nearly 20 years of varied nursing experience. Gleason currently teaches as an assistant professor of nursing within a prelicensure nursing program and coaches graduate students. Her passion and area of research centers around coaching nurses and nursing students to build resilience and avoid burnout.
Gleason is a paid member of our Healthcare Review Partner Network. Learn more about our review partners here.
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