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 more information on specific clinical courses, please scroll down.

  • 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. First-year clinicals (i.e., N219 and N319) are accessible by public transportation from Signe Skott Cooper Hall and other points in Madison. Second-year clinicals (N419 and N449) 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 nursing 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 November 1 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


    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

    Uniforms – 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. 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,

    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 N219 or N319, or
    2. Clinical preceptor and clinical course professor, if enrolled in N419, N449, N519, N728, or N729.

    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 not asked to nor allowed to arrange their own clinical placements. 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
    • Special mandates by the school’s Appeals Committee
    • 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 (, who also serves as the school’s McBurney Access and Accommodation Resource Coordinator (AARC).

  • Clinical Hour Completion Within the Term

    Experiential learning/clinical work required for School of Nursing courses must be completed during the term 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. Clinical work and clinical hours must be completed between these 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 class 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.


Coming soon…

Coming soon…

Coming soon…


Welcome to N419, the Community Health Nursing Clinical. In the coming semester, we look forward to introducing you to the clinical practice side of community/public health nursing (C/PHN). This is a unique opportunity to build on the knowledge and skills from other courses, to add new skills, and to learn from each other.

You will notice that N419 is different from your previous clinicals in several ways. Whether providing care to individuals, families or communities, nurses in C/PHN maintain a population-focus. Community health nursing focuses on holistic health promotion, health protection, and disease prevention. As a community health student nurse, you will be providing services to clients in the community. You may care for clients through local county or city health departments, school settings, home health agencies, community mental health settings, or in other sites designed to meet the needs of a specific community or population. Experiences (including direct clinical services, program planning, community education, interdisciplinary work, etc.) vary from setting to setting, and from week to week within agencies.

You will have a preceptor at your community health site who will guide you in meeting the course objectives; he or she will be evaluating your progress. Critical to your success in this clinical experience will be your ability to communicate closely with your preceptor regarding learning needs and expectations.

This 4-credit, graded course builds on the principles and content introduced in your previous clinical experiences such as the nursing process, evidence-based practice concepts, communication skills, critical thinking, psychomotor skills, and clinical judgment. The course emphasizes integrating previous knowledge and skills with new knowledge directed toward care of clients within the community. The integration of knowledge with practice is intended to lead to a more comprehensive approach to health and illness management, enabling you to provide nursing care in increasingly complex situations outside of the institution. Previous coursework has prepared you for this next step in the learning process and will serve as the foundation upon which you will build expertise in addressing both new situations and new populations.

As a 4 credit clinical course, N419 involves 180 hours of clinical/class time. Your primary clinical assignment accounts for 120 hours. You will select either a Tuesday or Thursday clinical session (a few of the sites have clinicals half days on both Tuesday and Thursday) for your primary clinical assignment. Refer to Ranking Instructions and Site Schedule in the Related Links section of this page for more informaiton. 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 for the spring session of N419. 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 N419 requires 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 for their N419 rotation. This is detailed as Lab #356 on the Clinical Site Schedule. 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. If you are interested in this rotation, please rank it accordingly. Specific questions should be directed to Professor Athanas at

There are several summer programs which fulfill a students’ N419 requirement.  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.

Before attending clinical you will receive an e-mail asking you to: 1) contact your preceptor at least one week prior to your start date to verify the starting date, time, and dress code; 2) complete an online orientation module including a questionnaire to print and take to your preceptor the first day of clinical; and, 3) communicate through the course website that you have completed the module, and contacted your preceptor. You will have orientation to your clinical site on your first day there.  You will start clinical as soon as possible once the semester begins based on the needs of your clinical site.


N449 is one of the four required clinical courses in the Traditional BSN curriculum. It focuses on nursing care to persons and families with complex health needs. The course is intended to facilitate the transition from the role of student to that of a beginning professional nurse. Students will practice three major nursing roles: provider of care, coordinator of care, and member of the profession. The course will consist of the following components:

  1. Direct Care. This the clinical experience during which students will provide comprehensive nursing care under the direct supervision of a preceptor and/or instructor. Students will complete 160 clinical hours at the unit/site.
  2. Seminar and Assignments.
  3. Simulation.

Once you receive notification of your lab assignment, you need to call the Contact Person before you leave town for winter break. Remind the contact person that you have class on Mondays and Wednesdays and that they should keep that in mind as they select a preceptor for you. Be sure to leave all applicable telephone numbers where you can be reached (home, work, cell phone, your parents’ home,or wherever your destination for break might be).

Contact your clinical site as soon as you get your assignment and try to set up an orientation shift during the FIRST week of classes. N449 requires you to complete 180 hours of clinical practicum, so it is unwise to delay your start and get behind early in the semester. Many sites also require computer orientation that may be done prior to the start of the semester.

UWHCVA Hospital, and St. Mary’s Students

Students assigned to clinical sites at University of Wisconsin Hospitals & Clinics, VAH and St. Mary’s have additional orientation requirements for computer training. If you are assigned to one of these sites, we will send you information about completing the training.

VA students

You will also have to meet with your unit manager and fill out several forms prior to starting their clinical—these will be sent to you after assignment of sites. This process is complicated and takes several weeks, so plan accordingly.

UWHC students

You will need to have an activated Proximity Badge (photo ID) and wear it all times while in clinical. We will send information about the badges after assignment of sites.

  • If you have a question about the course, and/or the site ranking process or survey, contact Karen Mittelstadt, Assistant Dean, at
  • If you have a question about a particular site detail, contact Tina DeGroot, Director of Clinical Practica, at


Tina Degroot, PhD, APRN

Director of Clinical Practica


Ann Johnson

Clinical Placement Administrative Support


Emily Jumper

Clinical Placement Administrative Support


1156 Signe Skott Cooper Hall