A Nurse Practitioner (NP) program prepares students for work as nurse practitioners in a variety of settings. Some graduates begin practicing medicine as a primary care provider, while others work in research, pharmaceuticals, or elect to practice nursing in a specific sector. But no matter which career path you plan to embark on after your NP degree, part of your program will include direct patient care clinical hours. While not all universities help students find preceptors and clinical sites, finding a degree program that offers clinical placement assistance provides a simple, streamlined way to find a great match.
Are clinical placement hours required for all accredited Nurse Practitioner programs?
Yes, all Nurse Practitioner programs require direct patient care clinical hours before graduation. These clinical rotations are specific to the student's concentration or track within the overall degree program, which helps NP students get the practical experience they need at clinical sites that are most relevant to their future career field. NPs will need experience with the population focus of their speciality track. For example, an NP student in a FNP track might complete clinical placement at a family practice. However, if that option is not available, the student might also be able to source their preceptors from a primary care office, a pediatric office, and a women's health practice to receive training for the full scope of their future career.
What is clinical placement?
Clinical placements are a required learning opportunity when nursing students train in a specific setting under a health care professional who holds an appropriate degree and licensure in the discipline for which the NP is studying, also called a clinical preceptor. During this time, nursing students will gain valuable experience in the field, putting their training to work under the supervision of their preceptor. Clinical placements typically occur in hospitals, primary care practices, clinics, long-term care facilities, or nursing homes, depending on the focus of the NP specialty.
Ways to find clinical placement for Nurse Practitioners
Some NP programs require students to find their own placement in an area that aligns with their specialty, while others offer in-house assistance. Here are a few ways students can secure their placement:
Do it yourself
Some students may opt to find clinical placements independently, although this task can be difficult. In many areas, there is a lack of clinical preceptors willing to take on clinical supervision for a Nurse Practitioner student. Unfortunately, this can lead to degree program delays while students search for a preceptor at a site that aligns with their declared specialty. Some students may not be able to secure a preceptor on their own, forcing them to seek outside help.
Pay a placement service
If finding a clinical placement on their own proves difficult, students can partner with third-party placement services who will assist in the process from start to finish, from finding potential preceptors to streamlining the paperwork process. However, these services come at a cost that can be prohibitive for some students.
Attend a program with clinical placement assistance
To save both stress and money, consider enrolling in a degree program that offers clinical placement services. Many universities understand the pressure that students may feel trying to place themselves in a helpful clinical rotation and build an alternative into their NP program.
Benefits of a Nurse Practitioner Program with Clinical Placement Assistance
There are many reasons choosing a degree program that partners with students to find the best clinical placement can be helpful, from the ease of access to financial relief.
By attending a university that assists with clinical placement, students are afforded more time to spend on coursework and studying, not to mention recreation and personal time. Help from the university allows students to live more balanced, well-rounded lives, even while they complete a rigorous course of study.
Clinical placement assistance saves students the financial burden of paying out-of-pocket for a third-party assistance service. The typical cost can range from $2,000 to $6,000, which is prohibitive for many NP students.
Avoid waiting periods
When a clinical site is pre-approved by the school, NP students will not have to worry about waiting for approval, wondering if their university and their preceptor will both sign off on the arrangement. Instead, the process is made easier by collaborating with a university that's experienced in placing students.
Most schools that offer clinical placement assistance are likely to have a wide range of local area placements available for their students – including options that may not be open to individual requests from students or requests from third-party services. By attending a degree program with placement assistance, students can likely enjoy staying close to home during clinical rotations. Online degree programs can often offer assistance in finding a convenient placement for students in a number of approved states.
Where should I get my NP degree?
For many prospective students, an online nursing program offers the ideal solution for higher education, offering students the clinical placement assistance they need, along with a more flexible schedule to balance work, life, and school demands. The online MSN-FNP program from Texas Woman's University includes clinical placement assistance in a number of approved states, allowing students to focus on their coursework and save the time and cost of searching for a local placement on their own.
Texas Woman's top-rated online Master of Science in Nursing – Family Nurse Practitioner program includes fully online 13-week didactic courses, three robust direct patient care experiences, and competitive tuition rates. Enrollees develop advanced clinical skills, leadership and problem-solving abilities, and learn a multi-faceted approach that prioritizes compassionate care and patient experience. With three start dates each year, students can complete their MSN-FNP degree in two years with full-time enrollment or up to four years with part-time study.
Start a conversation with one of our program advisors to learn more.