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I’m an actual Capella student compensated for posting about my experience at Capella. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

MSN Program Update - Starting My Practicum

I have officially completed the 12 MSN courses and have now begun my practicum! I am so excited to be at the 90% complete milestone! I am with a nurse educator and her team who are responsible for the new graduate-residency program at a large local hospital. The residency program is accredited and highly successful, and I actually went through it myself as a new graduate nurse eight years ago! The program has changed substantially since my time there, and it’s been amazing to see the operational side of nursing education.

MSN Practicum Prep

Before I could begin my hours, I had to go through an approval process. Capella has to ensure that the preceptor and site are appropriate and will meet the requirements. On the other side, I’ve got to ensure that a practicum site is willing to precept me. Thankfully, the organization where I’m completing this at has a well-oiled process in place for placing students and preceptors. I met with the individual who sets these up, let her know my interests and goals, and she paired me with the perfect preceptor. Then, I filled out the appropriate online requirements with Capella. They needed things like my CV, what I wanted to get out of my practicum experience, why my preceptor was an appropriate selection, as well as a clear a background check and all that jazz.

One of the common headaches of grad school in nursing you’ll hear about is how challenging setting up preceptors can be At the graduate school level, it’s up to the student. Not only was the organization really helpful and prompt in completing requirements, but Capella was also awesome. I am under a bit of a tight timeline and a unique situation in that I am expecting my second child in 10 weeks. My goal is to complete this course before my baby arrives so that I’m not worrying about papers and clinical hours with a newborn. I let them know about this, and they have been incredible about working with me to ensure I can meet that goal.

My First Week

As I mentioned, I am with the director of a nursing education program at a local hospital. Naturally, she has a team under her to manage the many responsibilities. I was able to shadow members of her team to get my mind around their responsibilities as they onboard and educate new graduate nurses.

I was able to sit in on interviews, which is incredibly interesting to me. I love watching people who are good at interviews conduct them and then discuss their impressions afterward. I’ve participated in some throughout the years but never conducted them myself. They also have an additional member of nursing leadership in the interview as well. It was really interesting to watch the interview and then hear their impressions and compare that to my own to see if I’m seeing/hearing what they have observed. There is an art to doing this and I am loving that I get to see it from this perspective.

There are a few clinical coaches in this educational department as well. They check-in with each new graduate in the program at regular intervals, both in a private sit-down setting as well as on the unit. This was something they didn’t have in place when I completed the program in 2010, so it was really awesome to see educators chatting with preceptors and preceptees about very specific clinical educational pieces like time management, documentation, prioritization, and breaks. I was able to round to see these conducted, which was so great. Personalities of preceptors and preceptees vary widely and it’s up to the clinical coach to get to know each, pair appropriately, and continually check-in to see needs are met.

Finally, I got to sit in on the actual new graduate education classes. In addition to the program support of clinical coaches, they also have to go to a 4-hr class once per week to provide more background and information on common topics. The curriculum was designed by the nurse educators and supplemented by guest speakers. For example, a nurse practitioner with the Gastrointestinal Team came and chatted about various GI issues like colon cancer, stomas, different GI surgeries, etc. A nurse from the cardiac surgical unit talked about chest tubes, and a nurse from the trauma/surgical unit talked about drains.

Starting the Capstone

In addition to physically completing the hours, I also have to complete a capstone project. I will complete this in sections, which will culminate in a 20-25 page final paper. I will develop a proposal for an intervention which will fulfill a need within a specific population. Because my passion is new graduate nurse support, it will be related to that in some capacity. I am still working out what it will look like exactly with my preceptor because I would love to fulfill an existing need of the department rather than work to identify a new need.

Right now, I’m still getting my mind around the department, their processes and personnel, and all the requirements for the class. This course is a bit different, in that I have to submit hours, have a conference call, and conduct more assessments than previous courses. I’m trying to be really proactive about my time management so I can complete this efficiently while still getting the most out of the experience.