School of Nursing

Senior Practicum

If you plan to graduate in May 2015, it is time for you to submit your practicum (NUR 480) location request for SPRING 2015.  Please read all of the information below.

Request deadlines:

October 14, 2014 for NEW HAMPSHIRE health care organizations (you must submit a cover letter and resume with your request for any New Hampshire facility),

OR, October 17, 2014  for MAINE health care organizations. 

What is Senior Practicum?

NUR 480, Practicum/Care Management, is a three credit clinical course taken the final 7 weeks of the undergraduate nursing program. Commonly called “Practicum”, NUR 480 has both a required weekly seminar of two hours and clinical placement time of approximately 22 hours per week (154hrs total) in a health care facility that can provide a professional nurse preceptor.  Practicum provides a culminating intensive clinical experience that gives the student an opportunity to refine and transition into, professional nursing practice. Emphasis is placed on integrating the multiple roles of professional nursing and serves as a vehicle for you to enhance your critical thinking, communication and patient care skills.

The primary purpose of this course is to develop your competency in nursing care, including organizing, prioritizing and decision-making skills. Your identified goals are key to your success in Practicum, as this course is meant to help you with the transition into professional nursing. Regardless of your practicum location, this transition is expected to occur.

The course seminar meets weekly for two hours with faculty. Attendance at seminar is mandatory with assigned readings and assignments for each class. Topics explored during the course include delegation, end-of-life and professional ethics as applied to a wide range of health care settings. All students will develop and present a capstone project which requires application of competent technical skills and best practice concepts.

Guide to Choosing a Practicum Site

Some students feel that choosing a practicum site is difficult because of misconceptions about what it is all about. If you are having trouble deciding what to request you are not alone. Here are some tips to think about as you get ready to make a request.

  1. If you are shaky and/or feel at all weak in your basic nursing skills, have a low G.P.A., and/or need to improve organization and priority setting skills, we recommend that you request a medical surgical nursing unit experience. You can indicate clinical units at the agencies/hospitals, if you have a preference.
  2. If you have completed a student internship, or feel you have strong clinical skills, and your G.P.A. is 3.0 or above, you may be accepted for a specialty unit placement such as ER, Critical Care Units,  PACU, OR, OB, Pediatrics, or community mental health nursing. Placement in a specialty area is at the discretion of the Practicum faculty. Faculty will consult with your previous clinical instructors to determine the appropriateness of a specialty unit placement for you.
  3.  If geographic location is an issue due to commuting, please consider this factor and indicate your special needs when completing the request form. Be sure to explain your geographic preference as a strong factor in your interest statement.  Just like clinical placements, we expect that you will have transportation to facilities outside of Portland.
  4. Do you already know what area in nursing most interests you? Is that area where you hope to have Practicum? Be sure to list that area as your top interest and then provide choices of hospitals/agencies that provide that experience.  Your request MUST include two different FACILITIES and two different UNITs within those facilities.  Your first choices may not be available. Other guidelines are that you may not request two specialty units.
  5. You haven't a clue? Think about what is important to you. Is it geographical area? Size of hospital or health care organization? Type of care model? Patient population? Readiness to take NCLEX exam? Ask your advisor, clinical instructor (especially adult health), people who know you best, to help you brain-storm. Then, carefully craft what you feel would be best, second best and third best for you.
  6. We will not place you in a unit in which you are currently or recently employed. You must include this information on your request form.

7.   We will do all we can to place you in your first choices. Realize, though, that there is no guarantee that your requests will be accommodated.  There are several reasons:

  • We are dependent on the availability of clinical slots in various hospitals/agencies and do not have control over the decision of an agency to take a Practicum student.
  • Slots available are dependent upon what is happening on the requested unit. The unit may have newly hired nurses, activities planned or no availability of seasoned preceptors and cannot accommodate a student at this time.
  • Nursing Directors or Head Nurses have the final say. They know the capabilities of the unit to offer a successful learning experience. It would be unfair to place a student with an inexperienced preceptor or on a unit in the midst of change.
  • Student progression through the program, especially in adult health clinical, is also a consideration. If you want a placement in a specialty area and have struggled clinically in the program, it may be a disservice to you and the unit to place you where expectations require a clinically strong student from the start of the experience. As a result, faculty has the final decision with regard to placement.
  • Finally, we compete with other schools of nursing for the same clinical units. The numbers of placement requests have increased greatly in the past few years.
  • So, the bottom line is to carefully identify all your choices. We will do the best we can to secure your preferred placement within reason and availability of resources.
  • You may not hear about your placement until very close to the start of Practicum
  1. You must not approach individual nurses, nurse managers or directors to request or arrange your own practicum.  Most hospitals have a specifically proscribed ways of ascertaining availability of preceptors for students and get very upset if we, or a student, go directly to a preceptor or manager. It is the faculty’s responsibility to coordinate this Practicum with the designated facility. We want to avoid any conflicting communication.
  1. It is highly probable that you will be offered a preceptor who works some or all night shifts. While facilities do try to put students with day shift preceptors, a student’s absolute restriction from working nights may be a constraint the unit is unable to meet.  Consider requesting a unit that functions mostly on the day shift such as OR, PACU, ACU, Outpatient areas, home health, etc.   More shift flexibility will increase your chances of being offered a facility and type of unit that you are requesting. Remember, this experience is approximately two shifts per week, or 13 twelve-hour shifts in the seven weeks. 
  1.  Students who request Spring Harbor Hospital should be aware that SHH requires an entire week of orientation. Most of the orientation hours count toward Practicum hours, but the orientation MUST take prior to starting clinical time.  Coordination of orientation will require faculty input as it will overlap with other coursework.

Please read the info below, and SEND The "Practicum Request" spreadsheet to Elaine Ogrodnick. Her email is listed on the request form. 

Please don't send any questions about Practicum to Elaine.  You will need to direct any placement questions to your advisor or other faculty members including Jean Dvorak and Liz Elliott. 

What else you should know about Practicum?

1.  BIGGEST MYTH TO DISPEL:  "You can work full time while you do practicum."
ABSOLUTELY NOT TRUE! The number of hours for Practicum (154), seminar requirements (2 hours per week), and the leadership course (6 hrs per week) make it nearly impossible to work during the last 7 weeks of the program. Your practicum schedule MUST be the preceptor's schedule and cannot be made around your outside work schedule. You need to have a conversation right now with your employer about your decreased flexibility and availability during those last seven weeks. There really is no "wiggle-room" here so be aware and plan accordingly.

2. Please note! By submitting a practicum request, you give the faculty your permission to seek placements in the facilities and the units you select. It also gives us permission to give your contact information to the facilities when your placement is impending or confirmed.

3. If you have any changes to your requests, these adjustments are often not possible due to the facilities placing large number of student placements from many schools.  Specialty units cannot be expected.  Be thoughtful and measured in making your requests and we'll do what we can to get it for you.  If you do need to have an adjustment to your request due to circumstances beyond

4. Facilities ask us not to request specific preceptors, thus, we ask that you not put those on your request forms.

5. Please consult your advisor or course faculty for further assistance.

Facilities list for Possible Practicum Placement

Practicum Request Form

Information for Preceptors