What Is a Clinical Practicum?

People preparing for health-care careers such as nursing and counseling can participate in a clinical practicum to gain hands-on experience. This can also be a part of social worker and teacher education. Before applying for positions in a clinical practicum, participants must complete some classroom education requirements. They may be required to complete a certain number of hours to graduate from a training program, and they may be required to complete a similar number of hours to obtain a license to practice. These kinds of requirements help to ensure that people have a certain number of hours of direct service under their belts before they start working in the field.

A clinical practicum has two essential components. The first is the chance to observe experienced mentors and preceptors working with patients and clients. For ethical reasons, a clinical practicum student must obtain consent from the client to sit in on an appointment and observe. Preceptors can talk about the case with the student, who can ask specific questions and participate in follow-up.

Another facet of the job entails providing direct care while being supervised. In a clinical practicum, students can be assigned patients, clients, and classrooms to practice with. People may be hesitant to work with a student in training, so informed consent requirements play a role here. While providing direct care, the student is as self-sufficient as possible, but later shares his or her experience with a mentor, who can also intervene during sessions if the student gets into trouble.

As part of their work during a clinical practicum, participants may be required to attend lectures, conferences, and meetings. They can help with administrative tasks to gain a better understanding of policies and how facilities are run. These give students the chance to discuss cases, learn about all aspects of the field, and receive feedback on their work. Nursing students, for example, can present and discuss case studies and discuss what went wrong in order to figure out how to avoid similar issues in the future.

When a clinical practicum is required, educational institutions frequently have a long-standing relationship with partners who can accommodate students. Individuals must apply for a practicum and, in some cases, may need to make arrangements with an outside preceptor if spaces in partner programs are not available. Students are graded on their performance in this part of their education, and if they do not meet the hours requirement or do not receive a passing grade, they will usually have to repeat it.