Nursing Clinicals: What to Expect

Each blog post is dated and contains accurate information as of that date. Certain information may have changed since the blog post publication date. If you would like to confirm the current accuracy of blog information, please visit our ABSN overview page or contact admissions at (855) 830-2713.

nurse fixing an IV bag

Clinical rotations are a critical part of your ABSN nursing education. The University of St. Thomas Houston Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program has partnerships with respected healthcare facilities. We place our ABSN students with top healthcare professionals in the area, so they learn first-hand what it takes to become a nurse in Texas.

If you’ve considered a career in nursing, you’ve no doubt heard about clinicals. Let’s take a deeper look at nursing clinicals, what to expect and commonly asked questions about the nursing clinicals portion of our 12-month ABSN program in Houston.

What Are Clinicals?

Clinicals are the part of your accelerated nursing education where you’ll experience what it means to provide holistic care to diverse patient populations in real-world settings. Here, you will see actual patients and work with professional nurses and healthcare providers to provide treatment under the guidance of experienced clinical instructors. Clinicals are a way to apply the knowledge students learn during online courses.

Your clinical experience can span a variety of specialties, including:

  • Adult health
  • Community health
  • Mental health
  • Obstetrics
  • Pediatrics

This gives you the opportunity to see which areas interest you the most, and where you might like to specialize as a registered nurse (RN).

I think clinicals are probably the best part of the learning experience. You get to finally connect those dots that you've made listening to lectures or reading your textbook and all the tests you've taken, and it actually comes into fruition. You see how it applies to actually being a nurse. It's amazing to interact with the patients and to see what your career is going to look like in just a few short months.

– Morgan, current ABSN@UST student.

Where Do Clinicals Take Place?

ABSN@UST clinical placements take place at a variety of high-quality healthcare facilities in Texas. One location is the Texas Medical Center (TMC), which is the world’s largest children’s hospital and the world’s largest cancer hospital. The TMC provides an innovative and dynamic environment for our students to learn and grow in a variety of medical situations.

Our clinical rotations have a balance of simulation experiences and actual hands-on experiences required by the Board of Nursing. Students really have to be able to have hands-on clinical experience and we go everywhere, from the Texas Medical Center to … Methodist, St. Luke's, and we have some of the other outlying facilities in the general area. We're getting more and more affiliation agreements all the time.

- Claudine Dufrene, Division Dean of Undergraduate Programs at the University of St. Thomas Peavy School of Nursing

How Do Clinicals Work?

nurse in red scrubs talking with patient

For your clinical placements, you’ll put the nursing concepts and skills you learned during the online class and lab portions of your nursing education as a UST ABSN student into action. Alongside your cohort members, you’ll have a clinical instructor supporting you and providing feedback, while you work under the guidance of healthcare professionals.

Since your clinicals are organized by the University of St. Thomas, you can think of your clinical instructor as your liaison between UST and the healthcare facility, while you learn from the nurses employed by the hospital. You’ll gain meaningful nursing experiences during clinical placements at top healthcare facilities in the greater Houston area, and start to see everything you’re learning come together.

Clinicals allow you to connect the dots between textbook and real life, which is another thing that's super cool. It also allows you to work on communicating with patients, especially in kind of awkward, uncomfortable situations. For example, when a patient's in alcohol withdrawal, you have to learn how to ask them, How often do you drink? What do you drink? Do you think you have a drinking problem? Controversial topics like that are not always easy to discuss.

But being able to say that to a patient, and then having them respond to you, kind of prompts you on how you would handle the situation. You can't mess up, you can't hurt anybody. It's a great time to learn what works for you and see what it would be like in a real situation in the future with a patient with alcohol withdrawal.

– Morgan, current ABSN@UST student.

When Do Clinicals Start?

Clinical practice hours start during your first semester of the ABSN curriculum. Keep in mind that the specific locations and scheduling of your clinical rotations may vary.

How Long Do Clinicals Last?

Clinicals last all the way through your final fourth semester at the University of St. Thomas.

nursing student with binder standing with instructor

What Are the Benefits of Clinicals?

ABSN@UST clinical rotations play a crucial role in helping you find your place in nursing after graduation. Exposure to a variety of clinical settings empowers you to figure out what fits you best. Clinicals with the nation’s largest medical center also offer you with valuable networking opportunities in the healthcare arena, which can be an asset as you begin your job search.

Our clinical rotations lay the groundwork for a successful nursing career. Clinicals set you up to become a confident and skilled nurse by providing you with real-world nursing experience, networking opportunities and access to training with cutting-edge healthcare equipment.

During clinicals, I have had some really, really inspiring patients. Even when they had the worst of the worst going on, they were kind. They had the best outlook on life. It showed me that I am in the right field, and I am meant to be a nurse. I love to build those relationships with the patient and be a bright spot for them and make that difference. You can tell that they're glad you're there when you do take that extra step to care. It makes a huge difference.

– Morgan, current ABSN@UST student.

Make a Bold Call for Your Future

If you’re ready to kick off your journey toward becoming a nurse, the first step is a conversation with our admissions advisors, who will help you identify a path to your goal of becoming a nurse.

Getting into nursing school: Advice - red stethoscope with notebook

Wondering how to get into accelerated nursing school? Learn five steps you can take to help you get admitted.

The admissions advisors at the University of St. Thomas Houston are here to answer any questions you may have about our 12-month ABSN program. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you start your nursing journey.