Clinical Placement and Immersion:

The online RN to Master of Science in Nursing — Family Nurse Practitioner (RN to MSN — FNP) program is designed to prepare RNs without bachelor’s degrees with the in-person and hands-on experiences needed for certification as FNPs. Through a combination of multiple clinical placements and an on-campus immersion, students build skills in community care, nursing leadership, and direct clinical settings. These experiences enable students to become highly skilled, confident practitioners who are ready for advanced nursing practice upon graduation.

Clinical Placement

Nursing@Simmons RN to MSN students complete four terms of clinical placement: one term of RN community care experience, one term of RN leadership experience, and two immersive MSN experiences across the lifespan. Students complete all placements at sites near their communities.

Students collaborate with our clinical placement team to find placement opportunities in their area of clinical interest ideally within 100 miles of their location. While students are expected to locate potential placement sites, our experienced team of specialists assists them throughout the process. Placement specialists help students understand their options, assess potential sites, vet these sites, and validate preceptors’ credentials to ensure that they meet Simmons’ requirements.

Simmons provides this additional layer of support to ensure that every student receives the best education possible and graduates fully prepared for their FNP career.

As of July 2020, we have assisted our students in securing:











RN to MSN–Specific Practicums

To prepare RNs without bachelor’s degrees for advanced nursing, BSN-level coursework and two practicum experiences are built into our program to help RNs elevate their practice before advancing on toward the two MSN clinical care rotations.

Practicum 1: Community Health (NURP 387: Nursing Care of Communities)

The focus of this course and practicum is the development of nursing skills necessary to promote the health of communities and populations. Students will gain knowledge about communities and population health, health determinants, and epidemiology to assist clients and communities in making choices that promote health and wholeness. There is an emphasis on wellness, prevention, health promotion, and health education as well as a focus on populations and their environments as the units of service. Attention is given to awareness of diversity and cultural sensitivity. This course offers a beginning strategy for improving the health of the public that can be applied to any health problem in any population at any time. It is about the nursing process at the community level: assessment, analysis, and action.

Practicum 2: Leadership (NURP 454: Leadership and Management)

This is a leadership class that offers an opportunity to consider the broader scope of practice of the BSN and other leadership roles within nursing. The student will develop a deeper understanding of the roles of effective, collaborative team members and leaders. Students will have an opportunity to work one-on-one with an individual mentor in nursing leadership development. The student’s section instructor will provide oversight of the leadership mentorship relationship and will assist in setting realistic, meaningful goals. They will also collaborate with the student and mentor on these goals, outcomes, and methods of evaluation for specific goals.

Dedicated Placement Support

Personal Placement Specialist

Students work one-on-one with a clinical placement specialist who assists them in securing sites and preceptors for each clinical placement term. Each placement specialist, who is specifically assigned to each student based on their state of residence, has a network of health care providers in every state and can use this knowledge to help identify high-quality placement opportunities.

Introduction Call

Six months before their first clinical rotation, each student’s placement specialist will schedule a meeting to prepare them for the placement process. By this time, the specialist has already begun to reach out to health care networks and independent practices near the student’s community.

During this call, the specialist will outline our team’s policies and expectations for the placement process. Students will be expected to provide referrals for potential placements to their placement specialist. While we cannot guarantee meeting every placement request, specialists will make every effort to ensure students have rich clinical experiences that fulfill required hours.

The Vetting Process

Once a student and their specialist settle on a potential placement, the placement team initiates the vetting process, which includes validating the preceptor’s credentials and processing all the necessary paperwork. We work diligently to ensure our clinical placements reflect the high standards set forth by Simmons School of Nursing.

Clinical Preceptors

For each placement, students will be matched with a clinical preceptor who will help them develop a plan of action to meet the required clinical objectives. Preceptors assign patients consistent with the student’s level of experience, supervise patient health assessments and treatment plans, and provide feedback on how the student can grow as a nurse practitioner.

The rigorous curriculum culminates in quality clinical experiences with highly qualified preceptors. In addition to the strong academic and clinical preparation needed to become skillful FNPs, students’ development is also aided by the formal and informal support they receive from the Simmons community, such as faculty, preceptors, classmates, placement specialists, and more.

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Campus Immersion in Boston

ll Nursing@Simmons students travel to the Simmons School of Nursing campus in Boston, Massachusetts, to participate in a clinical immersion experience. This in-person, interactive experience is designed to complement online coursework and classes, and prepare students for the real-world practice they will encounter in their clinical placements. Students complete a physical assessment exam during the immersion and participate in a number of workshops and seminars.

In addition to learning and growing as future FNPs, students gain the opportunity to network and form lasting bonds with classmates and faculty.

Immersion Schedules

Immersion Weekend typically takes place over the course of three days prior to the beginning of the first MSN placement term. Prospective students can view our sample immersion schedule here (PDF) for an example of the typical schedule of events. Please note that this schedule is a sample, and the final immersion schedule will be released as students get closer to their scheduled immersion weekend.

Physical Assessment

During the immersion, students are required to work with a partner to complete a head-to-toe physical examination, with the partner acting as the patient. During this examination, students conduct a systems-focused, physical assessment of various points of the body, assessing and evaluating the “patient’s” symptoms, and identifying normal symptoms versus abnormal symptoms.

Clinical Seminars and Workshops

Students also participate in seminars and workshops throughout Immersion Weekend to prepare for success in their clinical placements.

In some of these workshops, students will move through stations in OSCE format (Objective Structured Clinical Examination). Faculty will supervise stations while providing instruction and feedback to student groups. Stations may include:

  • lab interpretation using case studies
  • EKG interpretation using case studies
  • exam findings interpretation using case studies
  • physical assessment skill building
  • general office procedures
  • pediatric assessment

In addition to OSCE stations, students attend and participate in the following:

Female GYN/Male GU Workshop: Students use model simulators to practice normal and abnormal female GYN and male GU skills. Faculty will circulate to aid in providing instruction and feedback to student groups.

Suturing and I&D Workshop: Students will handle suturing instruments and get the opportunity to practice multiple suturing techniques including suture removal in this hands-on workshop. Students will also have the opportunity to learn a variety of punch biopsy techniques as well as incision and drainage procedures.

Clinical Expectations & Typhon Seminar: Faculty will introduce Typhon, the electronic system that students use for logging their clinical hours and patient experiences. Faculty also give an overview on programmatic clinical requirements and expectations for placement and host a clinical placement Q&A session with our Nursing@Simmons student ambassadors.

During Immersion Weekend, students will learn and grow as future FNPs as well as have the opportunity to network and form lasting bonds with classmates and faculty. Students will also have the opportunity to attend a White Coat Ceremony.

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Immersion and In-Person Experiences

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Immersion Cancellation Policy: Simmons reserves the right to cancel or reschedule immersion experiences due to weather, enrollment, or other factors that may impact the overall student experience.