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How long is my practicum?

As a DNP student, you will spend a total of 11 weeks in each practicum course, engaged in practicum-related learning activities, provided that you successfully complete each course. If for any reason you do not complete the practicum course, it may take additional terms of enrollment and the completion of additional hours.

Can I take two practicum courses concurrently?

No. The DNP practicum course series is hierarchical in nature, with each building on the concepts and products of the previous course. The series of courses is designed to be taken sequentially.

Do I have to finish all the practicum hours during the practicum course?

Yes. The practicum hours for each practicum course must be completed to satisfactorily meet the objectives of the course before advancing to the next practicum course. For the updated program of study, which began Summer 2021, you must complete 320 clinical hours in the two course practicum sequence. For students continuing in the DNP program of study prior to summer term 2021, there are four practicum courses for a total of 576 DNP hours. All practicum hours must be logged within the quarter enrolled. Students may not log hours prior to or in between quarters or bank hours from one practicum course to another.

Additional hours to complete the minimum 1,000-hour DNP graduation requirement may either be transferred in from an appropriate educational experience (usually an MSN degree) or met through enrollment in NURS 8600/8601. Practicum hours logged for NURS 8601 will not be counted for hours in other required practicum courses.

Will I need to obtain books or materials for the practicum experience that are not included in the practicum courses?

It may be necessary for you to purchase specific books that relate to your chosen area of interest, as not all important work in that area will be published in peer-reviewed journals and, therefore, available in the Walden Online Library. This is a common requirement of scholar-practitioners who seek to keep current in their areas of expertise.

When are my deadlines for the practicum application?

The DNP practicum application deadline is the first day of the quarter before the quarter students wish to begin their practicum. This deadline is firm.

How early can I submit my practicum application?

Walden encourages early submission of the practicum application via Meditrek®.

If the site provides liability insurance coverage for me, do I still need to have their own coverage?

Yes. All Walden students beginning a practicum are required to purchase professional liability insurance, even if there is no patient or client contact.

Who at my practicum site should I designate in Meditrek® as the practicum site Affiliation Agreement contact?

The Affiliation Agreement must be signed by a site administrator who has the authority to sign legal agreements. Often, that is the contracts manager, CEO, CNO, director, human resources staff member, owner, or president. Large organizations may have an onsite legal department that reviews such agreements.

When can I begin my practicum?

You may begin your practicum experiential learning activities once you have successfully completed all prerequisite coursework, submitted your practicum application documents, received notification of approval of your practicum application, and been enrolled in the practicum course. You must be in good academic standing to begin the practicum experience. If you are unsure of your academic standing, please contact the Student Success Advising Team at

If my practicum site wants me to begin practicum activities before I start the practicum course, am I allowed to start early?

No. You must wait until the first week of the practicum course to begin the practicum activities. Any hours accumulated prior to the first week of the practicum course will not be accepted.

Can my practicum experience be virtual?

Typically, the practicum is completed at a physical site. Any exceptions will have to be approved by the DNP program director.

Can I be paid for my practicum hours?

No. You cannot engage in a paid practicum experience under any circumstances. Practicum experiences undertaken at your place of employment cannot be scheduled during your working hours.

Can my practicum experience be in a private care or private home setting?

No. Practicum applications requesting a site that is a private care setting or private home will not be approved.

How can I obtain professional liability insurance?

Walden does not endorse a particular insurance provider. Students usually obtain professional liability insurance coverage through companies, such as Nurses Service Organization (NSO), Healthcare Providers Service Organization (HPSO), Marsh, and Mercer.

Will my preceptor be compensated?

Although Walden University College of Nursing does not compensate preceptors financially for preceptorships, they are provided with the following benefits:

Please note: More details and specifics regarding these benefits may be found on our Preceptor Resources page.

Walden discourages students from paying preceptors or sites, or site placement agencies, due to conflicts of interest that can arise.


For questions regarding preceptor benefits, email

Onboarding Frequently Asked Questions

What is CastleBranch?

CastleBranch is Walden’s designated vendor for onboarding requirements. CastleBranch is a service that allows students to complete onboarding requirements and the Office of Field Experience staff to verify completion of requirements. CastleBranch provides a secure and confidential platform. CastleBranch provides a service for us to track, verify, monitor, manage, and store all documentation required for practicum placement for auditing purposes.

What are onboarding requirements?

Onboarding is a set of practicum requirements, established by Walden College of Nursing and based on the most common field site requirements, which will enable students to potentially qualify for a wide range of field sites. These onboarding requirements vary from state to state; however, they generally include a background check, drug screening, health requirements, required training, professional liability insurance, and any additional onboarding requirements that may be required by the field site. If an approved field site requires something in addition to what is required by Walden University, an additional screening package can be obtained through CastleBranch, at the request of the Office of Field Experience, to fulfill those requirements.

Why are onboarding requirements being required?

All healthcare facilities accredited by The Joint Commission are required to obtain a background check on all employees, volunteers, and students who enter their facilities. Walden University requires onboarding requirements to be completed through its third-party vendor, CastleBranch, for students engaging in practicum experiences, to ensure all students starting practicum courses have completed all requirements.

My field site does not require me to complete a background check, drug test or immunizations. Do I still need to complete CastleBranch?

Yes, this is a requirement of Walden University for students to complete prior to beginning practicum. Regardless of what your field site may require, completion of a CastleBranch screening package is a Walden University requirement.

Do I need to complete onboarding requirements in CastleBranch if I am an employee of the field site?

Yes, this is a Walden University requirement that applies to all College of Nursing practicum students. Being an employee of your field site does not exempt students from this requirement. Please note that, for purposes of completing practicum, the onboarding requirements set forth by Walden University—and agreed to by Walden University and the field site—must be completed prior to the student beginning the practicum even if similar requirements had been completed as part of the student’s employment.

Do I need to obtain a new onboarding screening package each quarter for each practicum course?

No; however, you will need to obtain an updated background check and drug screen annually through CastleBranch if your practicum experiences encompass more than 1 calendar year. Some field sites may require a more recent background check and drug screen, so you may be requested to update those screens in CastleBranch depending on the specific field site requirement. The Office of Field Experience will contact you for field site-specific requirements.

What if a background check or drug screen was performed by my employer?

All background checks and drug screens must be completed through CastleBranch for validation and verification for Walden University. We are unable to accept background checks or drug screens from another source other than through CastleBranch.

How do I sign up for a package with CastleBranch?

Go to the Walden portal for CastleBranch. The site will walk you through the steps of signing up for an onboarding screening package. There is no package code required. Instructions on how to sign up for CastleBranch and complete onboarding requirements in CastleBranch are outlined in the CastleBranch & Onboarding Guide.

What is Walden’s package code for CastleBranch?

Walden University students do not need a package code. Students need to register for a profile by going directly to the Walden portal for CastleBranch. The site will walk you through the steps of signing up for a package. There is no package code required.

Can I just send all my documents directly to Walden University?

No, Walden University cannot directly accept any personal health documentation, background checks or drug test reports. All documents received directly by Walden University will be immediately and confidentially destroyed and will not be considered as part of the practicum application.

How are the results of my background check and drug test shared with my practicum field site?

The results of your background check and drug test are only shared with the field sites to which you have authorized access through your practicum application. Once you have authorized a field site, through submission of a practicum application with a FERPA release in Meditrek®, Walden University will be able to provide verification and attestation to the field site directly.

How do I share my results and documents in CastleBranch to a field site?

Students can share their results and documentation in CastleBranch to representatives at their field site. Students can call CastleBranch directly to ask how to share the results with their field site.

What happens when my requirements expire in CastleBranch?

Students are responsible for ensuring all requirements are up to date in CastleBranch. Expiring requirements must be renewed and valid by the onboarding deadline for the term. Students must upload updated documentation in CastleBranch to maintain compliance with requirements.

How long will it take to complete the background check once I provide the necessary information to CastleBranch?

Turnaround time for background checks varies by state. Background checks are completed within approximately 5-7 days but some states take up to 12 weeks, so it is recommended for students to start early to avoid delays. Information specific to your state can be obtained by contacting CastleBranch customer service. Students can request an expedited review through CastleBranch by paying an extra service fee. Please contact CastleBranch for more information.