As you consider continuing your nursing education at the master’s level, you likely will have questions about what you can expect as far as class days and times, plans of study, and practicum hour requirements. Guest blogger and Master’s program coordinator, Bethany Barefoot, provides answers to your most frequently asked questions:
How many days per week will I be required to attend class?
The answer depends on which cohort of students you have joined. We will admit to the 2-year plan of study and 3-year plan of study cohorts. If you join the 2-year plan of study cohort, you will likely be on campus two consecutive days per week. If you join the 3-year plan of study cohort, you will likely be on campus one day per week. We do not guarantee this is the case, but we do try hard to ensure that we minimize the number of days you are required to be on campus. Most classes meet one time per week.
The Nursing Administration and Leadership (NAL) concentration is taught online with limited on-campus residency requirements each semester. Required on-campus dates are posted on our website.
The Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner concentration-specific courses (Psych NP) does not typically require weekly campus attendance, but rather meets in a hybrid format with online and on-campus requirements. Students will come to campus 3-4 times per semester for all day on-campus immersions.
Can I change my plan of study once I begin?
When you accept your offer of admission, you will commit to the plan of study for your cohort. Classes are typically taught one time per academic year, so it is essential that you follow the plan of study as written to avoid delaying your progression. All plans are purposefully constructed to build upon the knowledge from the previous semester’s courses, so the order in which you take your courses is important.
How many clinical practicum hours am I required to complete for my concentration?
All practicum hours are consolidated over the last two or three semesters, depending on your concentration. All students in nurse practitioner concentrations will complete 540 total clinical practicum hours. The ratio of credits to clinical hours in a practicum course is 1:45.
- Family Nurse Practitioner and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner students complete the required hours over the last two semesters, logging 270 hours during each fifteen-week semester.
- Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner and Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner students complete the required hours over the last 3 semesters: 135 hours during a ten-week summer semester, 180 hours during a fifteen-week fall semester, and 225 hours during the final fifteen-week semester.
- Nursing Administration and Leadership students complete 270 total practicum hours during their final three semesters: 90 observation/shadowing hours during a ten-week summer semester, 45 observation/shadowing hours during a fifteen-week fall semester, and 135 precepted hours during the final fifteen-week spring semester.
Preceptor availability is unpredictable, so students should be flexible with their schedules in order to complete the practicum hours required each semester.
Do I have to find my own preceptor for my practicum courses?
No. The VCU School of Nursing has a clinical placement coordinator who arranges all practicum placements. If you know of a potential preceptor with whom you would like to work, we ask that you send that individual’s contact information to the clinical placement coordinator so that she can facilitate communication between the potential preceptor and the School of Nursing.