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What Are Nursing Clinicals?

November 01, 2021
An illustration shows a nurse in scrubs hanging an IV beside a patient's hospital bed.

Written by: Julianna Orkin '23

A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) involves more than just passing an anatomy test. This degree means you’re ready to work with patients in a real-world healthcare setting. And that requires practice. 

If you’re considering a career in nursing, you’ve probably already done some research and gained an understanding of what the job involves. You likely have an interest in science, and in helping people. You may find the medical field fascinating, or enjoy learning about how the human body works. If this sounds familiar, pursuing a Nursing degree could be a natural fit.

As you research colleges for nursing and nursing programs, one of the terms you’re bound to come across is clinicals — and a good clinical experience can have a huge impact on the value of your nursing education.

How do clinicals work? 

Clinicals are hands-on learning experiences, hosted at real-world medical sites. These courses are managed by a faculty supervisor with extensive experience in nursing, and often involve small class sizes so students get individualized attention. At York College of Pennsylvania, the average clinical class size is approximately eight students and clinical sites include a variety of regional partners: WellSpan Health (York Hospital), UPMC, Penn State Health (Hershey Medical Center, Holy Spirit Hospital), and more. 

As a student in a clinical course, you’ll have the opportunity to work with patients and gain valuable experience in administering medication, checking vital signs, CPR, hanging IVs and tube feedings, giving injections, and documenting nursing interventions on patient paperwork, just to name a few examples. Most importantly, you will learn how to manage patients, work as a healthcare team member, and think like a nurse.

Academic requirements for clinicals

As you make a college decision, it will be important to understand how a specific school’s clinical program works and what you’ll need to do to be accepted. 

At York College of Pennsylvania, participation in clinicals is contingent upon acceptance into the B.S.N. program (you can be accepted directly, or enroll as a Pre-Nursing student with an option to be considered for the B.S.N. if you maintain an overall GPA of 3.0 or greater, with a minimum  science GPA of 2.8). Depending on their graduation semester, Nursing students complete either three or four  semesters in our on-campus classrooms. For their remaining five semesters, students complete clinical experiences in simulation labs and on-site. Students will have clinical experiences in multiple settings during their five semesters of clinical. 

If you feel a nursing career is right for you, take the next step and explore York College’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) program. Learn how you can build skills in a medical setting, and pursue hands-on learning opportunities in a hospital as soon as your sophomore year.