How Do Accelerated Nursing Students Complete Clinical Training?

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Key Infor­ma­tion:

  • Accel­er­at­ed nurs­ing pro­grams cov­er the same course­work, labs, and clin­i­cal train­ing as tra­di­tion­al pro­grams but in a short­er time frame.
  • Clin­i­cal train­ing begins ear­ly in the pro­gram, involv­ing var­i­ous rota­tions such as acute care and pedi­atrics, where stu­dents per­form essen­tial nurs­ing tasks.
  • Time man­age­ment, phys­i­cal and men­tal health main­te­nance, and effec­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion are cru­cial for suc­cess in these inten­sive programs.
  • Tech­nol­o­gy and sup­ple­men­tal resources like VR tools and online forums can enhance the learn­ing expe­ri­ence dur­ing clinicals.

Accel­er­at­ed nurs­ing pro­grams are just as they sound — you get the same nurs­ing edu­ca­tion as a tra­di­tion­al pro­gram in as lit­tle as 11 months, allow­ing you to change careers more quick­ly. Nat­u­ral­ly, the pace of learn­ing is great­ly increased, as is your work­load. This applies to course­work, lab expe­ri­ences, and clin­i­cal train­ing, too.

Though all aspects of nurs­ing edu­ca­tion are impor­tant, clin­i­cal train­ing for nurs­es is at the top of the list. Clin­i­cals allow you to apply what you’ve learned in class and labs in a real-world set­ting — invalu­able expe­ri­ence to gain while you’re still in school.

If you’re con­fused about how to com­plete nurs­ing clin­i­cal hours in an accel­er­at­ed pro­gram, read on! This guide shows you how to com­plete your train­ing successfully.


Understanding Clinical Training Requirements

Com­plet­ing clin­i­cal rota­tions is part of every nurs­ing pro­gram. Usu­al­ly, clin­i­cals start ear­ly — the first or sec­ond semes­ter of nurs­ing school. Accel­er­at­ed pro­grams are the same way. You’ll begin clin­i­cal rota­tions straight away as part of your core nurs­ing classes.

You’ll com­plete clin­i­cal hours in var­i­ous rota­tions, includ­ing acute care, pedi­atrics, and long-term care, to name a few. An RN clin­i­cal instruc­tor pro­vides guid­ance and feed­back based on your per­for­mance in each rota­tion. Dur­ing your clin­i­cal rota­tions, you’ll be respon­si­ble for a host of tasks, including:

  • Tak­ing vital signs
  • Mak­ing beds
  • Assist­ing patients with feeding
  • Per­form­ing phys­i­cal assessments
  • Admin­is­ter­ing medications

Accord­ing to the Amer­i­can Nurs­es Asso­ci­a­tion, the num­ber of clin­i­cal hours you have to accrue depends on your state’s require­ments. Like­wise, the required hours vary by degree lev­el. By and large, bachelor’s pro­grams in nurs­ing require at least 400 hours of clin­i­cals. Master’s‑level pro­grams usu­al­ly require any­where from 600–1,300 hours. You obtain these hours in mul­ti­ple week­ly shifts, each of which is eight to twelve hours long.

Not all your clin­i­cal train­ing has to take place in a health­care set­ting, though. Some states allow you to use in-per­son instruc­tion in a lab set­ting and nurs­ing sim­u­la­tion labs online to earn clin­i­cal hours.

Preparation for Clinical Training

Time man­age­ment in nurs­ing school is incred­i­bly impor­tant. How­ev­er, a fast-track nurs­ing pro­gram enhances the need to man­age your time wise­ly. The tips below will help you stay orga­nized and on top of all the respon­si­bil­i­ties of being a nurs­ing student:

  • Rely on to-do lists to help you remem­ber assign­ment due dates, lab ses­sions, and oth­er respon­si­bil­i­ties for class and clinicals.
  • Learn to pri­or­i­tize so you can attend to the most crit­i­cal tasks first and then com­plete the less impor­tant tasks.
  • If pos­si­ble, opt for clin­i­cal sites near where you live to reduce com­mute times. If sites aren’t avail­able near­by, use your com­mute time to learn (e.g., lis­ten to a nurs­ing-relat­ed pod­cast while dri­ving to your clin­i­cal site or watch record­ed class lec­tures while rid­ing the bus or train).
  • Be proac­tive and com­plete low-pri­or­i­ty tasks dur­ing down­time at your clin­i­cal site. This will improve patient care and reduce your work­load lat­er in your shift.
  • Clus­ter patient care (e.g., assist a patient with eat­ing, feed­ing, and using the restroom in one round) so you can save time.

One of the chal­lenges in nurs­ing clin­i­cals is the extreme stress on your body. You will be on your feet for most of your shift and often be in high-stress sit­u­a­tions. There are sig­nif­i­cant men­tal strains involved, too (e.g., work­ing with dif­fi­cult patients), so pro­tect­ing your men­tal health is impor­tant as well.

To pre­pare for the rig­ors of clin­i­cals, eat right, drink lots of water, and get as much sleep as pos­si­ble. Take time away from your course­work and clin­i­cals to unwind and have fun. Try yoga to work tense or sore mus­cles if you’re feel­ing phys­i­cal­ly down. If you expe­ri­ence men­tal health issues, seek guid­ance from col­leagues or see a men­tal health professional.

Maximizing the Clinical Experience

Your clin­i­cal expe­ri­ence is what you make of it. On the one hand, you can do the bare min­i­mum or have a poor atti­tude, which makes clin­i­cals even more dif­fi­cult. On the oth­er hand, you can embrace clin­i­cals for what they are — an oppor­tu­ni­ty to learn and grow and do so in a sup­port­ive envi­ron­ment. Do the lat­ter by using the strate­gies out­lined in the table below:

Clin­i­cal StrategyBen­e­fits to You
Be eager to learn by ask­ing ques­tions, offer­ing to help, and using down­time to enhance your under­stand­ing of clin­i­cal top­ics or strategies.Increased knowl­edge, improved skills, enhanced rap­port with instruc­tors and colleagues.
Write it down! Take notes through­out your shift regard­ing things you need to do, ques­tions you need to ask, or patient details.Improved orga­ni­za­tion, makes clin­i­cal paper­work eas­i­er, makes you an active par­tic­i­pant in your learning.
Use mis­takes as learn­ing opportunities.Increased knowl­edge, improved skills, bet­ter under­stand­ing of areas you need to improve.
Come pre­pared with every­thing you need for each shift, such as scrubs, stetho­scope, notepad, etc.Enhanced abil­i­ty to per­form your job, improved patient care, professionalism.
Focus on the lit­tle things like being on time, hav­ing a pos­i­tive atti­tude, and gen­er­al­ly behav­ing like a professional.Demon­strates to patients, col­leagues, and super­vi­sors that you take your job seriously.
Seek nurs­ing clin­i­cal feed­back from super­vi­sors, peers, and patients.Allows you to reflect on your per­for­mance, iden­ti­fy strengths and weak­ness­es, and shows you care about doing your best.

Fur­ther­more, prac­tice effec­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion strate­gies with every­one you encounter dur­ing clin­i­cals. Speak clear­ly and con­fi­dent­ly, express­ing what you need or want in a pro­fes­sion­al tone. Be an active lis­ten­er, too. Ensure you make eye con­tact when lis­ten­ing to oth­ers, con­firm what you heard, and ask for clar­i­fi­ca­tion if you’re unsure what the oth­er per­son needs. In a med­ical set­ting, effec­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion can mean the dif­fer­ence between life and death!

Common Challenges and Solutions

All nurs­es at all nurs­ing clin­i­cal sites are met with chal­lenges big and small. Things will go wrong; what’s impor­tant is how you deal with those chal­lenges. Below is a short list of com­mon prob­lems you might encounter, along with prac­ti­cal solu­tions to help you over­come them.

Com­mon Chal­lenges of ClinicalsSolu­tions
Long shiftsUse down­time or breaks to eat, drink water, sit down, stretch, and so forth.
Sched­ul­ing issues Be open to swap­ping shifts with oth­ers as need­ed so they are more like­ly to do the same for you when a sched­ul­ing issue arises.
Phys­i­cal demands (e.g., long peri­ods of stand­ing, lift­ing heavy objects)Wear com­fort­able shoes, sit down when­ev­er pos­si­ble, and use safe lift­ing procedures.
Over­whelm­ing emo­tions (e.g., “tak­ing work home with you”; hold­ing onto stress)Talk to a loved one about your feel­ings and emo­tions, decom­press with peers who under­stand the emo­tion­al toll clin­i­cals can take, and seek pro­fes­sion­al help when needed.
Burnout Prac­tice self-care, exer­cise, strive for a bet­ter work-life bal­ance, and ask for help from super­vi­sors and peers.

The Amer­i­can Nurs­es Asso­ci­a­tion has numer­ous nurs­ing stu­dent resources on this sub­ject, details about nurse pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment, and oth­er impor­tant aspects of becom­ing a nurse. Con­sult their web­site for details.

Leveraging Technology and Resources

Dur­ing clin­i­cals, you’ll gain valu­able expe­ri­ence in real-world med­ical set­tings. But you can use nurs­ing edu­ca­tion tech­nol­o­gy and sup­ple­men­tal resources to max­i­mize your learn­ing that much more. Tools and resources worth con­sid­er­ing include the following:

  • Vir­tu­al Real­i­ty (VR) tools allow you to work in sim­u­lat­ed nurs­ing set­tings to hone your knowl­edge and skills. You can sim­u­late hun­dreds of sce­nar­ios, includ­ing sit­u­a­tions that sel­dom occur in the real world.
  • Online learn­ing tools such as quizzes, study mate­ri­als, and sim­u­la­tions give you the need­ed prac­tice to mas­ter crit­i­cal nurs­ing skills.
  • Tele­health tech­nolo­gies enable you to com­plete clin­i­cal rota­tions vir­tu­al­ly, often with under­served and diverse populations.
  • Online nurs­ing forums are good sources of prac­ti­cal infor­ma­tion pro­vid­ed by nurs­es of all expe­ri­ence lev­els and specialties.
  • Nurs­ing stu­dent orga­ni­za­tions and pro­fes­sion­al nurs­ing orga­ni­za­tions like the Nation­al Stu­dent Nurs­es’ Asso­ci­a­tion offer edu­ca­tion­al sup­port, lead­er­ship train­ing, and oth­er ben­e­fits for enhanc­ing your clin­i­cal experience.
  • Study groups with your peers are effec­tive for brush­ing up on your knowl­edge and skills.

Completing Clinical Requirements and Beyond

To ensure your clin­i­cals go smooth­ly, main­tain prop­er records for the hours you’ve worked and the com­pe­ten­cies you’ve mas­tered. Work with your nurse pre­cep­tor to ensure all required doc­u­men­ta­tion is in order and sub­mit­ted on time.

Once your clin­i­cals are com­plete, the next step in tran­si­tion­ing from nurs­ing stu­dent to nurse is NCLEX prepa­ra­tion. Everyone’s approach to the NCLEX is a lit­tle dif­fer­ent, but some basic tips you can use to get ready for the exam are below:

  • Study ear­ly and often using an NCLEX prep book
  • Com­plete NCLEX prac­tice exams
  • Take part in study groups for the NCLEX
  • Be famil­iar with each of the NCLEX client needs categories
  • Get plen­ty of rest the night before the exam

Once you pass the exam, you can pur­sue employ­ment as an RN, focus on a spe­cial­ty, or take part in a res­i­den­cy, to name a few options. What­ev­er path you choose, you can move ahead know­ing you have the appro­pri­ate knowl­edge, skills, and expe­ri­ences from your clin­i­cal rota­tions to be a suc­cess­ful nurse.