Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science

Drop Shadow

MSN and DNP Students

Clinical Placement Frequently Asked Questions

Where are clinical sites located?
Clinical sites are located throughout San Diego County and the southern regions of Orange and Riverside Counties. Sites vary based on the student's program enrollment and include primary care clinics and offices, child care centers, skilled nursing facilities and hospice settings, retail health-care settings, community health centers, counseling centers, and hospitals and medical centers. Clinical sites must be within a 60 mile radius of USD. Travel time can vary depending on many factors ranging from 15-90 minutes. Students must have transportation available on the days of clinical practicum and are encouraged to carpool whenever possible.

When will a student be expected to present at a clinical site?
The clinical component of the program experience requires a flexible schedule. The clinical placement coordinators assign students at clinical sites on days that do not conflict with the student's classroom course schedule. The student will coordinate a schedule with their preceptor that does not conflict with the student's course schedule. Clinical placement coordinators cannot guarantee that they will be able to accommodate a student's work schedule when making clinical placements. If a conflict exists, the student will be expected to make alternative arrangements with their employer.

Who are student preceptors and clinical mentors?
Preceptors may be nurses, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, executive nurse leaders, and/or physicians who are approved by your faculty and/or clinical placement coordinator. Preceptors must meet the educational and experiential requirements identified for the program. Many have previously served as preceptors for USD nursing students or had appointments at nearby universities. It is important to respect preceptors at all times. They volunteer their time and make an invaluable contribution to student's clinical education.

Clinical mentors are doctoral-prepared preceptors who "mentor" DNP students with their DNP project experiences. These clinical experts must be doctoral-prepared advanced practice nurses, physicians, and/or psychologists who are approved by the student's faculty chair.

How are clinical placements made?
Clinical placements are determined jointly by the clinical placement coordinator and program faculty based on the clinical course objectives for the program. In certain programs, students are expected to be involved in the identification and selection of preceptors. However, the clinical placement must be approved by the program director and/or clinical placement coordinator. Please refer to the program student handbook regarding other important details involved in this process.

What will be required of the student while at the clinical site?
Each student will work with program faculty to determine the objectives for the clinical experience each semester. In addition, each student must be compliant with the school and agency health requirements as well as adhere to the standards, policies, and regulations of the clinical sites during the clinical experience. Many clinical sites require an agency orientation that students must complete prior to initiating the clinical experience. Students are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner at all times. This means wearing professional attire including the USD clinical identification badge (see the program handbook for additional dress code information), being punctual, and maintaining ongoing communication with the preceptor and faculty to ensure all components of patient care are optimal.

Can I work during my program?
USD cannot guarantee that it will be able to accommodate a student’s work schedule when scheduling the clinical experiences throughout the program. If a conflict exists, the student will be expected to make alternative arrangements with his/her employer.

How does the student explore the possibility of setting up a new site?
Students may recommend potential preceptors to the faculty and/or clinical placement coordinator who have not served as a preceptor in the past. Students must not make random, spontaneous call to agencies to explore potential clinical placements.

What if a student would like to arrange an out-of-area clinical experience?
Clinical sites must be within a 60 mile radius of USD.

What does a student do if experiencing difficulty with their clinical placement?
Each student is supervised by an experienced nursing faculty member who serves as the student's mentor and advocate. If a student has a concern about his/her placement, the student should directly contact the faculty member as soon as possible. In many instances, the student may be able to resolve the concern by communicating with her/her preceptor too. Refer to the program student handbook since many programs have an algorithm for managing challenges regarding clinical placements.