What Is Clinical Rotation and Why Does It Matter?

Clinical rotations are an integral part of every nursing student starting their journey for the nursing knowledge they require. We’ve already covered what exactly clinical rotations are here, but the shorthand is that they allow students to apply what they’ve learned in a classroom setting during real scenarios with live patients.

Taking it a step further, the option for elective clinical rotations opens the door to specialty nursing fields for students to explore. Clinical skills are developed in a practical world rather than solely through a classroom. To answer questions about all the benefits of rotations, we’ve put together how this common practice truly takes nursing topics from the academic world and turns them into professional habits needed for a nurse’s typical life.

Core Clinical Rotations Put Knowledge to Use

Rotations tend to start in the last two years of a nursing program when future nurses are able to shadow practicing nurses and observe them treating patients. It’s common for one rotation site to be used for a specific class or school. While students shadow established nurses, core rotations cover the most common health care disciplines, such as:

  • General Care
  • Pediatric
  • Long-Term Care
  • Acute Specialties

Outside of these lie more specialties. A healthcare specialty is a focus on a particular set of patients, areas of the body, or types of conditions. To treat patients as a specialty nurse, additional education needs to be completed, which core rotations help prepare you for. The base knowledge acquired during the core set of rotations will make electives more understandable for a comprehensive nursing education.

Elective Rotations Let Students Find Their Niche

Students work with an established healthcare team to practice patient care and discover the intricacies expected from certain disciplines. Every rotation is meant to aid students in making an educated decision on where they steer their nursing career.

Elective rotations are available to guide students down different career avenues based on their interests and natural aptitude. Elective rotations can be the exact opportunity a student needs to find where their skills are best put to use. Rotations are perfect for honing skills before transitioning from the world of academia to working in hospitals and doctor’s offices.

Going From School to Clinical Rotations

Nursing education is an ongoing part of being a professional nurse, with clinical rotations important to your field of practice being the jumping-off point. Nursing schools prepare for clinical rotations by partnering with clinical facilities throughout the country, often based on proximity and level of care provided.

Teaching hospitals that offer clinical clerkships and rotations focus on staffing units that can teach the students and provide them with a nurturing learning environment. This allows you to learn uncommon uses of medicine and practicing makes overcoming these situations much easier post-graduation.

Learning Practical Applications of Healthcare Teachings

Depending on the nursing schools a student is exploring, they’ll typically find that rotations are the first time they’ll have hands-on practice with patients. There’s no substitute for the nursing and clinical experience gained during rotations

The aspects of daily business within a hospital and around nursing students in rotation are insightful and motivating, as they finally get to practice what they’re learning.

Students leverage their time spent with a staff nurse for both clinical training and to start networking in preparation for work after graduating. Having a clinical rotation after graduation keeps students in practice by maintaining necessary clinical skills. Clinical rotations can also serve as informal interviews for future career opportunities at their preferred hospital.

Turning Students Into New Nurses

There’s no doubt that clinical rotations give students a much-needed path to venture down as their time in structured learning comes to an end. Depending on the discipline being pursued and the hospital of choice, students often end up working with the same teams they shadowed during their rotations.

Nursing students obtain the experience necessary to become nurses because of these rotations, which is why they typically come toward the end of their studies. By the time they graduate, they need to be fully prepared to act as confident nurses in their preferred discipline, and clinical rotations are the perfect training tool to make the jump from nursing school seamless.