University of Wisconsin–Madison

Clinical Information

Experience in a clinical setting is an integral part of the nursing program. Through working side-by-side with some of the best nursing and medical professionals in the county, you will benefit from the knowledge and hands-on learning that is only possible through actually applying theoretical skills in practice.

For clinical guidelines and information on specific clinical courses, please scroll down.

General Information and Guidelines

  • Clinical Placements

    Hands-on, practical experiences in real clinical settings are a critical part of our nursing curriculum. The Clinical Placement Office within the School of Nursing’s Office of Academic Affairs coordinates all student nurse placements, in collaboration with the faculty. This includes not only securing sufficient and appropriate placements for students, but also ensuring the appropriate affiliation agreements are in place and that all students have the necessary site-specific compliance requirements met. Each agency with which we place a student has been thoroughly evaluated by the Clinical Placement Office and/or faculty to ensure the site and staff can provide an engaged, safe, and productive experience that aligns with the course learning outcomes. By making regular site visits, faculty and clinical placement staff continue to evaluate the various clinical education learning environments.

    The Clinical Placement Office is responsible for placing all students into their various rotations, again in collaboration with the faculty. Students do not request, rank, or preference their placements as the school utilizes a strategic placement process designed to provide students with excellent experiential learning opportunities at all levels with broad experiences and exposures to the many aspects of the nursing profession. Students with special concerns or considerations relative to a clinical placement may submit the Petition for Special Consideration to bring forward their request. Examples of situations warranting a placement consideration might include a major illness or medical leave, military leave, disability, or notable financial concern. The Petition must be submitted on/by March 1 for clinical placements during the fall term and on/by October 15 for spring term placements. These deadlines are firm as a Petition must be reviewed in advance of clinical assignments. There is no guarantee the school will be able to honor such requests/conditions and exceptions are granted in very rare circumstances.

  • Transportation to Clinical Sites

    The School of Nursing recognizes that students need educational experiences beyond those available in hospitals in Madison, Wisconsin. In answer to this educational need, and in order to secure enough clinical sites for all students, the School of Nursing places its students in a variety of venues in and beyond Madison. This includes ambulatory sites, clinics, rehabilitation centers, home health agencies, geriatric facilities, school districts, nursing homes, etc. This gives our students comprehensive exposure to a broad range of patients, illness, and care.

    Nursing students are responsible for arranging their own transportation to and from their clinical sites. In the Traditional and Accelerated BSN programs, first-year clinicals (i.e., N316 and N326/N327) are accessible by public transportation from Signe Skott Cooper Hall and other points in Madison. Second-year BSN clinicals (N436 and N446) and DNP clinical rotations require travel to and from an agency, as well as to and from homes, schools, and other sites. Locales may be up to 90 miles from Madison. Therefore second-year Traditional BSN students, Accelerated BSN students in their spring semester, and DNP students are required to have 1) a valid driver’s license, and 2) individual access to a car. Students are responsible for all transportation costs incurred, including gas and parking fees. As an alternative to owning a car, UW-Madison has partnered with Zipcar to offer a sustainable alternative with low hourly and daily rates with cars conveniently located on campus. Learn more…

    Students with extenuating circumstances that impact their clinical transportation options (e.g., driving/medical restrictions) should use the Petition for Special Consideration to request an accommodation or exception to the transportation policy. The Petition must be submitted on/by March 1 for clinical placements during the next fall term and on/by October 15 for the next spring term placements. These deadlines are firm as a Petition must be reviewed in advance of clinical assignments. There is no guarantee the school will be able to honor such requests/conditions and exceptions are granted in very rare circumstances.

    Students receiving financial aid may be eligible for a budget adjustment to reflect clinical transportation expenses. Federal regulations allow for a student’s financial aid budget to be increased in certain circumstances, and the cost of transportation to a clinical site is one of the eligible reasonable educational expenses. To learn more and to request a budget adjustment, contact the UW-Madison Office of Student Financial Aid.

  • Professional Appearance for Clinical Practice

    Guidelines

    The words “professional appearance” have a different meaning for each person. Despite diversity of views, it is generally agreed that professional appearance entails both a functional and aesthetic component. The School of Nursing’s student professional attire standards follows.  Additional requirements may be set by a particular clinical agency, in which case students must comply with the requirements of the clinical setting in which they are practicing.

    Hair – Loose strands should not brush or fall into work area or fall in front of your face when leaning forward.

    Fingernails – Should be a length that does not interfere with work and can easily be kept clean and neat. Nail polish should be a conservative color and free from chips.

    Jewelry – Earrings should be small and designed so they will not scratch the client or catch on anything. Rings should be confined to one or two significant wedding, engagement or friendship rings that will not scratch the client and can be kept clean. Bracelets and necklaces should be avoided.

    Items to avoid – Jeans, shorts, tee shirts, sweat shirts, sweat pants, sandals, clothes with graphics/art/messages, or clothes that are too tight, too short, or wrinkled should not be worn.

    Perfume. – Should not be worn in clinical because it may be offensive or harmful to patients/clients.

  • Uniform Requirements

    All undergraduate nursing students are required to purchase the approved UW-Madison School of Nursing (SoN) uniform. The uniform consists of a white top and navy pants. The white top, embroidered with the UW-Madison SoN logo, is available in two styles and the pants will be available in three styles.

    Lab coats embroidered with the SoN logo are also required and are worn when students are on their clinical units doing clinical preparation. In addition, students may be required to wear their lab coats during community clinical experiences.

    You may view sample uniforms and lab coats on the University Bookstore website by clicking here.

    Uniforms and lab coats may be purchased from the University Bookstore by:

    • On-line ordering
    • On-line reservation
    • Purchase at University Bookstore, Health Sciences Learning Center (750 Highland Avenue, Madison, WI 53792)

    You wear the SoN uniform during three of the four semesters of nursing school, so you may want to purchase more than one set. Students are required to wear the approved uniform whenever they are on a clinical unit, unless directed otherwise by their clinical instructor. If desired, students may wear a white (only) short or long-sleeved shirt under the uniform top. Colors and patterns are not allowed.

    Questions regarding purchasing uniforms can be directed to David Jewell, University Bookstore, Tel. 608-663-2665.

    Shoes – Students are required to wear white nursing, running or walking shoes when on their clinical units. Shoes are to be reserved for clinical use for hygiene and comfort reasons.

  • Clinical Incidents/Injuries

    Students in clinical rotations in health care facilities are at risk for injuries or clinical incidents. When an incident occurs, the student should notify their:

    1. Clinical instructor, if enrolled in N316, N326, or N327, or
    2. Clinical preceptor and clinical course professor, if enrolled in N436, N446, N728, N729, N828, and N829.

    Students are eligible to use University Health Services (UHS) for consultation and treatment. Students also have the option of contacting their individual health care provider for treatment. Students choosing to be seen at an emergency/urgent care facility rather than at UHS are responsible for all charges incurred. For detailed information on School of Nursing clinical incident/injury procedures, refer to the Related Link.

    Within 24 hours of a clinical incident or injury, the student and instructor/professor must complete and submit the Clinical Incident/Injury Report Form (pdf) to the Academic Programs Office, Cooper Hall suite 1100.

    As a reminder, all students are strongly encouraged to have health insurance either through a private insurance company or through the University’s Student Health Insurance Program.

    For a more detailed explanation of the policy, please click here.

  • Securing Placements

    The School of Nursing, via the Clinical Placement Office, secures clinical placements for all students who are eligible. Students are neither asked  nor allowed to arrange their own clinical placements. If a student has a suggestion for a site, they may bring that suggestion to the Clinical Placement Office by emailing clinicals@nursing.wisc.edu, but students should not independently reach out to a site with an inquiry on behalf of the school. All prospective sites are carefully vetted by the faculty and the Clinical Placement Office to ensure they are appropriate for students and the course learning outcomes.

    In the event of enrollment limitations, the following criteria are applied to establish placement priorities:

    • All prerequisites met
    • Course needed for graduation in that semester
    • Progression
    • Only nursing courses remaining
  • Accommodations within Clinical Placements

    Students who will be completing Experiential Learning (i.e., clinical) experiences and are seeking accommodations are required to submit that request via the School of Nursing’s Petition for Special Consideration. The completed petition will be routed to the Director of Advising and Student Services who will work with the student, the Director of Clinical Practica, and faculty to develop a proactive plan to establish and approve reasonable accommodations. In order to ensure that requested accommodations can be considered prior to placement, the petition must be submitted by April 1 for a fall placement, by October 1 for a spring placement, and by February 1 for a summer placement. Any questions regarding accommodations within the School of Nursing can be directed to the Director of Advising and Students Services (academic.affairs@nursing.wisc.edu), who also serves as the school’s McBurney Access and Accommodation Resource Coordinator (AARC).

  • Clinical Hour Completion Within the Term/Rotation

    Experiential learning/clinical work required for School of Nursing courses must be completed during the term or session of enrollment. These official terms and dates are when the faculty have effort allocated to course instruction and also when our clinical partners have agreed to engage with students in clinical rotations. Per the university’s Academic Calendar, there are three terms each academic year: fall, spring, and summer. Each term has an official date instruction begins and last class day. In addition, some clinical courses are broken down into shorter rotations within a term, typically an eight-week session. Clinical work and clinical hours must be completed between these term/session/rotation dates. It is not an option to start clinical work prior to the first day of instruction or to complete clinical work after the last day. Exceptions may be made in the case of extenuating circumstances or if a student is assigned an Incomplete grade for the course. Any requests for an exception to this policy should be directed to the course instructor who will review the request with the Director of Clinical Practica to determine its appropriateness and feasibility.

  • Outside Employment

    Due to the heavy academic demands of the nursing curriculum, students who work while in the program are strongly encouraged to have employment that provides for a flexible schedule to accommodate student course, laboratory, and especially clinical schedules and demands. Clinical shifts may be 8-12 hours and may include days, evenings, and weekends. Some clinical shifts are subject to last-minute changes. Therefore, students’ personal commitments must remain flexible to accommodate program requirements.

First Year Experiential Learning

N316:  Foundations of Nursing Practice:  Experiential Learning

Course Description

This course introduces psychomotor and assessment skills necessary to provide person-centered, evidence based nursing care.  Students will experience opportunities to promote wellness and respond to health problems by participating indirect client care in community and acute care settings.  Students will develop confidence with the application of skills and clinical judgment in a simulation lab and through concept-based learning experiences in care settings.

Experiential Learning Description

Experiential learning for N316 is a faculty led/8 student clinical rotation on adult inpatient hospital units.  The patient populations include learning opportunities with medical, surgical, urological, gynecological, orthopedic, trauma, oncology, neurology, plastics, ENT, vascular, and respiratory patient populations.

N326/N327:  Health and Illness Concepts with Individuals and Families:  Experiential Learning

Course Description

This course builds on psychomotor and assessment skills necessary to provide direct care to individuals and families across the lifespan. Students continue to develop clinical judgment, knowledge, communication skills, and professional behavior while providing nursing care that is safe, evidence-based, and patient centered. Experiential learning takes place in simulated and clinical settings, building on previous and concurrent coursework.

Experiential Learning Description

Experiential learning for N326 and N327 are 7-8 week faculty led/8 student clinical rotations on adult inpatient hospital units.  The patient populations include learning opportunities with medical, surgical, urological, gynecological, orthopedic, trauma, oncology, neurology, plastics, ENT, vascular, and respiratory patient populations.

Second Year Experiential Learning

N436: Health and Illness Concepts with Individuals, Families and Communities: Experiential Learning (2 Clinical Rotations)

Course Description

Students spend concentrated time in two settings focusing on care to individuals across the lifespan, families and communities. The concept based learning activities are aligned with those taught in the companion didactic courses and builds on previous learning and experiences. Students provide direct care from an evidenced based perspective, at an increasingly independent level. The student learning activities are guided by nursing preceptors in practice settings and School of Nursing faculty in simulation and seminar settings.

Experiential Learning Description

Students spend time 1:1 with preceptors in both community and acute care settings caring for patient populations across the life span in multiple settings.  Settings include acute care, home health care agencies, hospice, correctional institutions, schools, public health departments, government agencies, long term and assisted living for both adults and pediatrics, psychiatric and mental health, and rural health settings.  Students can expect to drive up to 90 miles for a clinical rotation.

N446:  Advanced Concepts in Complex Nursing Practice (2 Clinical Rotations)   

Course Description

Students spend concentrated time in two settings focusing on the complex care of individuals across the lifespan, families and communities. Students demonstrate advanced ability to integrate professional nursing related theory and concepts as they develop and implement the plan of care.  Students are mentored by clinical nursing preceptors in the clinical setting and School of Nursing faculty in simulation and seminar settings.

Experiential Learning Description

Students spend time 1:1 with preceptors in both community and acute care settings caring for patient populations across the life span in multiple settings.  Settings include acute care, home health care agencies, hospice, correctional institutions, schools, public health departments, government agencies, long term and assisted living for both adults and pediatrics, psychiatric and mental health, and rural health settings.  Students can expect to drive up to 90 miles for a clinical rotation.

Your primary clinical assignment accounts for 120 hours. Students are expected to be at every clinical session throughout the semester. Be sure to arrange your schedule accordingly. Travel time to the site is not part of the clinical time.

Approximately 40 hours of clinical time is self-directed. You will be using some of the 40 hours for the course’s community assessment project. In addition you may use the time for extra sessions at your clinical site, participate in a variety of learning activities made available throughout the semester, or seek approval for a course-related experience of your own design (see “Self-Directed Hours” below). These different ways of using the self-directed time (the 40 hours) will be explained in the first weeks of class. All students will also participate in discussion seminars on specific Friday mornings during the semester. Seminars account for approximately 20 hours of the required 180 hours.

At times students participate in service learning activity over summer that may qualify to complete some of the self-directed hours. If you are participating in such an activity over summer that you wish to count toward the self-directed hours independent learning requirement, pre-approval of the course professor is required.

Since second year clinicals require travel to and from an agency, as well as to and from homes, schools, and other sites, having a car to use on clinical days is required. Even if your clinical is in Madison, you will need a car because caseloads and home visits can be in another part of the city. For more information and transportation options, please review the school’s Transportation to Clinical Sites policy.

You will not need to wear a uniform as each agency has its own dress code. You are expected to look professional and follow the dress code of the agency in which you are assigned. You will need your name badge and a stethoscope.

Pediatric Urban Experience Rotation Option
Students have the option to complete an instructor-led clinical with a focus on urban pediatric populations. Eight students will complete this rotation with Professor Jenny Athanas. Students will work with families and children in a variety of community settings. Clinical sites may include but are not limited to schools, community outreach program sites, community centers and residential programs. Clinical will take place on Tuesdays. Evening hours may be required for certain clinical experiences and sites.  Specific questions should be directed to Professor Athanas at athanas@wisc.edu.

There are several summer programs which are options for the second year clinical experience.  These include a Community Health Clinical Immersion in Rural Wisconsin, an Acute Care Clinical Immersion in Rural Wisconsin, and a Community Health Clinical Immersion in either Thailand or Malawi, depending on the year.

For more information on these programs, please click here.

Accelerated BSN Experiental Learning

Coming soon…

Clinical Support Staff

clinicals@nursing.wisc.edu

Ann: 608-263-5329 | Emily: 608-263-5167