The clinical experience is a cornerstone of nursing education. After exploring concepts and theories in the classroom and honing skills in simulation labs, our students are prepared to provide direct, supervised care to patients.

Our undergraduate and graduate students engage in a variety of clinical experiences at inpatient, outpatient, and community-based facilities. Many students also choose to take advantage of the opportunity to serve on international primary health care missions.

About Our Clinicals

Undergraduate Program

Undergraduate students spend their final four semesters engaging in clinicals. Our students work in small groups of six-to-eight along with a clinical faculty member. In their final semester, students are assigned to work with a preceptor in a direct-care setting.

The clinical experience provides our students the opportunity to interact with experienced nurses and providers while assisting patients in health recovery. Students are supervised as they assess patients and provide therapeutic treatments.

Among our clinical sites, there are tertiary and community hospitals as well as long-term care and rehabilitation settings. Students participate in acute care of the adult, as well as mental/behavioral health, pediatric, and reproductive health clinical groups.

Graduate Program

Graduate students engage in clinicals for three semesters, averaging around 600 hours of practice. The preceptor-to-student ratio is one-to-one.

Clinical placement varies by a graduate student’s area of academic concentration. Specialty areas include family practice, internal medicine, cardiology, endocrinology, women’s health, pulmonology, dermatology, orthopedics, and pediatrics, to name a few.

Our inpatient and outpatient clinical partners include:

  • Central Maine Medical Center (CMMC)
  • Maine Medical Center (MMC)
  • Mercy Hospital
  • Mid Coast Hospital
  • Southern Maine Health Care (SMHC)
  • Spring Harbor Hospital
  • St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center

Community-Based Clinicals

At the University of Southern Maine (USM) School of Nursing, the clinical experience goes beyond the traditional practice: we immerse students in the community, where they work with under-served populations to identify risks and opportunities and to establish plans for improvement.

Students provide primary care, public health, and mental health services to the patients and clients of community-based organizations, including:

  • Facilities serving people who are experiencing homelessness along with mental health challenges
  • Agencies serving the immigrant and refugee population
  • A non-profit women’s center providing community, support, counseling, and classes
  • A homecare association providing direct care to a variety of populations
  • A center offering support for individuals and families experiencing cancer
  • Subsidized housing for elderly and disabled residents
  • A free health center serving low-income residents
  • An organization committed to improving health care quality in under-served countries
  • A network of families who make their living in the Casco Bay commercial fishing industry
  • The Dominican Republic Health Outreach Mission (see below)

International Health Care Missions

Many nursing students feel drawn to serve the needs of communities experiencing a lack of health care. The School of Nursing partners with the Office of International Programs to bring direct health care and supplies to some of the world’s most under-served populations.

Dominican Republic Health Outreach

Since the mid-1990s, nursing students and faculty have traveled to rural villages in the Dominican Republic to provide primary health care. Teams of students and interpreters work together with faculty and preceptors to offer health education and medical support in daily clinics, and through home and hospital visits.