Clinical Practice (Internships)

As a graduate nursing student at SPU, you’ll spend time in hands-on clinical practice at a broad range of venues throughout the greater Seattle area while taking evening courses that support your internship experience. These opportunities allow you to gain a breadth of experience and meld theory with practice.

Harborview Medical Center in downtown Seattle

Harborview Medical Center in downtown Seattle. Photographed by Joe Mabel.

Clinical Rotations

SPU’s graduate nursing program is intensively hands-on. The number of clinical hours required depends on your degree pathway and the amount of time it takes you to gain the skills and experience needed to be fully competent in your role. For DNP students in training, at least 1,000 clinical hours are required. For MSN students, at least 350 clinical hours are needed.

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As a graduate nursing student, you are assigned a clinical preceptor. Your preceptor will enhance your access to patients and settings, clinical skill development, role acquisition, socialization, and professional transition into the world of advanced practice. Unlike many online programs, SPU faculty will personally match you with a preceptor and place you at clinical sites. You do not have to find these resources on your own.

Clinical rotations are varied and provide you with a wide array of experiences. Located just minutes from downtown Seattle, SPU maintains valuable partnerships to facilitate your learning within hospitals, schools, clinics, community agencies, and professional organizations throughout the city. In fact, we have working relationships with more than 150 practice partners. Some of these partners are located in smaller communities outside of the Seattle area. In order to get the best experience, you may have to commute up to 100 miles to certain clinical locations.

MSN Internship

As an MSN student, you’ll spend your last three quarters in internship roles (Autumn, Winter, and Spring Quarters). You will attend an orientation in the spring of the year before you begin, where you’ll learn how to prepare for your internship. During your internship rotation, you will continue with evening courses at SPU that support your internship experience.

If you are in the MSN pathway, you will spend no more than two quarters at one site. If you are training to be a nurse educator, you may be placed in teaching roles area universities, SPU, community colleges, or at hospitals, where you’ll do clinical teaching, simulation instruction, or work on quality improvement or patient safety projects. As a CLIP student, you’ll be placed with preceptors in leadership roles in nursing organizations.

DNP Practicum

If you are pursuing a DNP degree, you will need a minimum of 1,000 practice hours. Of the 1,000 hours, a minimum of 500 faculty supervised clinical hours focused on direct care of individuals and families within the APRN specialty are required for board certification and state licensure. If you have current board certification or licensure in your selected APRN specialty pathway, you may apply up to 500 hours of previously documented clinical practicum hours toward the required 1,000 hours. 

If you are a Nurse Practitioner student, you will likely intern in smaller clinics, such as family practice offices. Clinical Nurse Specialist students often intern in larger health care organizations.  

In addition to your direct care hours, other mentored learning experiences assist you in achieving DNP competencies as outlined in the AACN DNP Essentials and are a part of the 1,000 practice hour requirement and completed as an immersion experience. For these mentored learning experiences, you might complete simulation experiences, participate in agency committees to assess and evaluate practice protocols, evaluate programs and improve processes within a practice unit, or collaborate with a team to implement a health initiative at the state level.

Zainab Gaal-Weber

Zainab Gaal-Weber’s Story

“When I was 13 years old, I was seriously hurt in Somalia and a nurse from Doctors Without Borders helped me. Because she was able to recognize the seriousness of my condition, she saved my life. Ever since then, I have wanted to become a nurse.”

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