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Purpose of this Manual

Welcome to the field experience component of Walden University’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program. This manual describes the structure and timing of the classroom-based and practicum experiences, and the policies students must follow to be successful. For more information about the nursing programs, students should refer to the Walden University College Catalog and Walden University Student Handbook. 

This manual is intended to provide DNP students with the information they need related to practicum policies and procedures and the DNP Project. This manual also is intended to serve as a reference for practicum preceptors and others involved in DNP practica and the DNP Project.

This manual refers to the Walden University Catalog and the Walden University Student Handbook for specific information on university policies and courses.

Special Note for DNP-Master of Science Entry NP Specializations or DNP-Bachelor of Science Entry NP Specializations

Students enrolled in one of the DNP-Master of Science (MSN) or DNP-Bachelor of Science (BSN) Entry NP specializations (Adult Gerontology Acute Care, Adult Gerontology Primary Care, Family, Pediatric Primary Care, or Psychiatric Mental Health) or DNP must:

  • Refer to and meet the College of Nursing, Master of Science (MSN), and Nurse Practitioner (NP) Practicum Manual for curriculum and practicum course requirements.
  • Refer to the DNP College of Nursing Practicum Manual for the DNP practicum course requirements.

This document does not create a contract to provide any particular service or benefit.

Note: Walden University reserves the right to make program changes as needed to ensure the highest quality program.

Walden University

The DNP program at Walden University is designed to promote Walden University’s vision, mission, and ongoing commitment to social change. These guiding principles serve as a framework for the program curriculum and outcomes and are included here as a reference.


Walden University envisions a distinctively different 21st-century learning community where knowledge is judged worthy to the degree that it can be applied by its graduates to the immediate solutions of critical societal challenges, thereby advancing the greater global good.


Walden University provides a diverse community of career professionals with the opportunity to transform themselves as scholar-practitioners so that they can effect positive social change.

Social Change

Walden University defines positive social change as a deliberate process of creating and applying ideas, strategies, and actions to promote the worth, dignity, and development of individuals, communities, organizations, institutions, cultures, and societies. Positive social change results in the improvement of human and social conditions.

College of Nursing


The College of Nursing will be recognized for its preeminent programs and innovative educational approaches that prepare distinguished graduates to advance the greater good of global communities.


The College of Nursing, dedicated to excellence in nursing education, provides programs to transform diverse nursing professionals into champions of change who will improve health outcomes and advance health equity.


The goals of the College of Nursing at Walden are to:

  • Empower diverse nursing professionals through academic advancement that enhances personal growth, professional development, clinical reasoning, and the desire for life-long learning.
  • Create an inclusive teaching and learning environment where students expand on their existing professional nursing knowledge, to improve workplace and healthcare outcomes.
  • Provide educational approaches that addresses the complex needs of adult learners and support academic quality and integrity.
  • Prepare learners as scholar practitioners to use evidence-based practice that exemplifies and supports professional nursing standards.
  • Prepare professional nursing leaders who are empowered to promote positive social change for individuals, families, and populations by addressing the social determinants of health locally, nationally, and globally.

DNP Program Outcomes

At the end of the DNP program, students will be able to:

  • Translate research findings to direct evidence-based nursing practice
  • Develop organizational system changes for quality improvement in healthcare delivery in response to local and/or global community needs
  • Apply optimal utilization of healthcare information technology across healthcare settings
  • Advocate for the advancement of nursing and healthcare policy through sharing of science-based knowledge with healthcare policy makers
  • Demonstrate leadership to facilitate collaborative teams for improving patient and population health outcomes
  • Utilize advanced nursing practice knowledge to implement methodologies to improve population health outcomes
  • Establish a foundation for lifelong learning and for continual elevation of contributions to the field of nursing through active involvement in professional organizations and/or other professional bodies

For graduate specialty programs, the College of Nursing uses the following guidelines and standards to inform the curriculum and professional behavior:

  • The Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice (AACN, 2006)
  • The Nurse Practitioner Core Competencies (National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties, 2017)
  • Criteria for Evaluation of Nurse Practitioner Programs (National Task Force on Quality Nurse Practitioner Education, 2016)
  • Guide to the Code of Ethics for Nurses With Interpretative Statements (American Nurses Association [ANA], 2015)
  • Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice (ANA, 2015)

Field Experience Terms

For the purposes of this manual, the following terms are defined in this way:


A practicum is a distinctly defined supervised clinical experience in which students implement knowledge and skills acquired in coursework and integrate professional knowledge in a real healthcare context. A practicum takes place at a field site, providing students with experiences to support learning and developing competencies in their profession.

DNP students are required to complete the designated practicum courses as defined by the DNP program of study. Each practicum course will consist of a didactic and clinical component with practicum hour requirements. The specified practicum hours for each course and the didactic course requirements must be completed successfully to receive a course final grade.

In total, DNP students are required to complete a minimum of 1,000 post-baccalaureate supervised practice hours to graduate from the program. Students who do not enter the program with enough supervised practice hours from Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or other nursing programs may obtain additional practicum hours through NURS 8600 or NURS 8601: DNP Field Experience (see DNP Additional Field Experience Hours: NURS 8600/8601). These practicum requirements must be successfully completed prior to graduation.

Practicum Site

A practicum site is a setting that enables students to increase the depth of knowledge of the DNP roles directly related to the area of specialization, where students have applied practice experiences (no direct hands-on care) under the supervision of a preceptor, consistent with their education and meet the requirements of their program. The practicum site enters into an Affiliation Agreement with Walden University to provide a safe and appropriate supervised learning experience. The practicum site also establishes the policies, procedures, and protocols that students are expected to follow while working at the site. Virtual practicum experiences are not allowed for practicum.


Supervision by a preceptor is composed of a tutorial and mentoring form of instruction in which practicum preceptors monitor students’ activities in the practicum and facilitate learning and skill-development experiences. Preceptors guide students and provide feedback on their practicum work.


A specific set of pre-practicum requirements established by Walden College of Nursing, 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, state-specific background screens (e.g., Abuse Screens, Fingerprinting, etc.), drug screening, health requirements, required training, and professional liability insurance, as well as 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 package can be obtained through CastleBranch, at the request of the Office of Field Experience, to fulfill those requirements.

Field Experience Roles


Preceptors are qualified individuals within a practicum site who are responsible for helping to shape student practicum experiences and provide ongoing feedback on their practicum work (see Preceptor Requirements).

  • Preceptors are qualified individuals employed by the practicum site.
  • Preceptors are responsible for supervising students during their practicum experiences.
  • Preceptors provide mentoring and guidance appropriate to students’ roles in their practicum sites, including orienting students to the facility, personnel, policies, and procedures; providing ongoing feedback about the students’ progress in meeting practicum goals; and completing evaluations to assess the student’s work during practicum.
  • Preceptors provide students opportunities for role analysis, as well as the application of skills and knowledge.
  • Preceptors and Faculty collaborate throughout the practicum experience to ensure that the student is meeting the clinical outcomes and performance objectives. This includes meeting with the student’s clinical Instructor, as required.
  • Walden expects preceptors to be accessible to students and to provide guidance and feedback that promotes growth of knowledge, skills, and competencies consistent with Walden’s educational goals, as well as with best nursing practices.

Walden provides guidelines to the students on how to identify a qualified preceptor and practicum site that will provide them with a learning experience that satisfies program requirements and meets their specific needs and interests.


Students at Walden are considered adult learners who are capable of seeking educational opportunities to meet their personal and professional goals. Walden expects students to collaborate with Faculty Members and be self-directed to meet educational requirements. Students work with Faculty Members, clinical instructors, and preceptors to ensure they obtain a well-rounded educational experience.

Because each student and each practicum experience are unique, students play a critical role in the practicum placement process.

  • At Walden, as in many DNP programs in the United States, students begin the practicum process by identifying a possible practicum site and preceptor for each practicum course and by submitting a timely and complete Field Experience Application for each of the required practicum courses.
  • Students do not need to identify a preceptor before beginning their program. Once students begin their studies, Walden will provide them with information on how to identify a potential practicum site and preceptor.
  •  The practicum process is an important part of the student’s learning experience:
    • The identification of a site and preceptor provides students opportunities to hone skills needed as a competent and successful nursing professional. For example, by engaging in the practicum process, students can:
      • Develop and practice important networking skills.
      • Simulate a job search in their desired future role.
      • Explore various practice areas through the preceptor research process.
      • Learn what it might be like to work in a particular practice setting.
      • Interact with leaders in healthcare settings similar to those in which they may eventually practice.


Note on the importance of networking: Students should plan to engage in networking early in their program to identify potential preceptors. Some students may not fully understand what effective networking entails. Others may think that they can use one individual or site location from their existing network, not realizing the site or preceptor may not meet their program requirements; that the site may be part of a health system that does not affiliate with Walden; or that the site or preceptor are not available or a good match for other reasons

Student Expections

Students are expected to do the following (note that this list is not exhaustive, and students are expected to meet all expectations set forth in this manual and the student catalog for successful completion of the program):

  • Develop a learning contract to meet Course Objectives and outcomes for the practicum.
  • Adhere to the learning contract as established by the student, Faculty Member, and preceptor.
  • Comply with the policies, procedures, and protocols established by the practicum site.
  • Seek and be receptive to direct and indirect supervision from the Faculty Member and preceptor.
  • Be appropriately prepared for each practicum experience.
  • Incorporate theory and research into practicum practice to provide evidence-based care practice guidelines for care.
  • Provide safe, competent, and quality care under the supervision of the preceptor.
  • Always conduct oneself in an ethical and professional manner.
  • Use acquired knowledge and clinical skills for the appropriate practicum setting.
  • Use various educational resources to provide evidence-based care to patients.
  • Be on time at the practicum site and be prepared for each practicum session.
  • Develop a clear and concise plan to meet course outcomes.
  • Be respectful and professional.
  • Participate in regular conferences with the Faculty Member.
  • Seek and be receptive to regular feedback from the Faculty Member and preceptor about progress in the practicum setting.
  • Always adhere to Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) guidelines.
  • Maintain truthful and accurate practicum journal, logs, and other pertinent practicum records as required by the Faculty Member and/or preceptor.
  • Be adaptable and flexible learners.
  • Evaluate the course, practicum experience, and preceptor.
  • Develop long-term and short-term goals during the program.
  • Participate in group and individual conferences.
  • Complete the required hours needed for the didactic and practicum portions of the courses.
  • Satisfy all applicable academic standards and course expectations.
  • Contact the Faculty Member and practicum site if unable to attend a practicum experience.
  • Immediately notify the Office of Field Experience and course Faculty if their preceptor or practicum site becomes unavailable for any reason.
  • Immediately notify the Office of Field Experience if they move to another state while they are enrolled in the program.
  • Notify the College of Nursing’s Office of Certification, Licensure, and Compliance immediately if their license becomes encumbered for any reason.


Walden is responsible for incorporating practicum experiences into its programs, as well as ensuring availability of adequate resources for students to participate in practicum required for completion of the program. Walden provides support for students throughout the practicum process and students’ field experience. Walden’s practicum process meets Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) accreditation standards.

Practicum Course Faculty Members

Walden nursing Faculty Members, who are doctoral prepared, teach the didactic portion of each practicum course; manage the practicum experience; grade student work related to the practicum experience; assign the final grade for the course; and communicate with preceptors regarding the successful mastery of all competencies. Practicum course Faculty Members collaborate with students and inform the DNP program director about any difficulties that arise during the practicum experience. The Faculty Member teaching the practicum course serves as the point of contact for the preceptor related to student practicum activities, per the course’s practicum requirements.

Program Director

The program director is a Walden Faculty Member whose primary role is to manage and continuously improve a degree program. The program director’s role in the DNP practicum experience is to approve preceptor nominations and oversee the overall experience. The program director also approves and assigns members of the DNP Project committee (see the DNP Project section of this document for more information). The program director supports students throughout the DNP program, including during the practicum.

Office of Field Experience

Office of Field Experience in the College of Nursing is responsible for managing the practicum application process, ensuring that students’ practicum meets program requirements, and supporting students through the practicum process. Office of Field Experience staff are dedicated to supporting nursing students through the practicum process from the time students enter the program until their last practicum has been completed.

The Office of Field Experience also provides technological resources to assist students in identifying appropriate field sites. The Office of Field Experience maintains a database of active Affiliation Agreements (known as the Affiliation Agreement Module or Module) with healthcare facilities across the world. The Module is searchable, and students are encouraged to explore sites where Walden has an existing Affiliation Agreement in place.

In order to ensure that Walden has adequate resources for students, Walden University actively pursues Affiliation Agreements with new and existing field sites. Walden has been successful in establishing new Affiliation Agreements with field sites for all of its programs, as well as maintaining existing Affiliation Agreements with field sites as evidenced by the thousands of field experience Affiliation Agreements found in the Module.

Field Experience Coordinator

The Office of Field Experience is comprised of a team of field experience coordinators. Field experience coordinators are Walden employees who help students understand the practicum policies and procedures. Their role is to answer questions about the practicum application process; to assist students in identifying qualified practicum sites and preceptors, and in the instances, when necessary, support students by conducting outreach to potential sites and preceptors on students’ behalf; to review materials to help students ensure that they have completed all required application and documentation; and generally to assist with the practicum application and approval process, Field experience coordinators serve as a conduit between Faculty, students, sites, and others throughout the process, and they work collaboratively with the specialization coordinators and the program director throughout the practicum approval process. Once practicum applications have been approved, the field experience coordinators ensure that students are enrolled in their appropriate practicum courses.

Field experience coordinators are assigned to students by region and have expertise about possible practicum sites in areas where students are located or desire to practice. There are six Office of Field Experience staff members assigned to each region to assist and support students through the practicum application process. The staff are assigned by role, and each is responsible to review the various components of practicum applications. The Office of Field Experience staff are assigned to the following roles by region:

  • Nursing field experience coordinator: Responsible for ensuring the preceptor and field site meet the course requirements. This coordinator approves the preceptor/field site section of the application. This coordinator holds student appointments to provide support and guidance on preceptor and field site course requirements.
  • Verification field experience coordinator: Responsible for ensuring students have completed the onboarding requirements. This coordinator reviews and approves the onboarding section of the application and reviews student accounts in CastleBranch. This coordinator holds student appointments to provide support and guidance on onboarding requirements.
  • Affiliation Agreement field experience coordinator: Responsible for facilitating the Affiliation Agreement process with nominated field sites. This coordinator holds student appointments to provide updates and information on Affiliation Agreements. Please note that the actual contract negotiation is completed by a contract administrator in the Office of Applied Learning Agreements at Walden.
  • Assistant field experience coordinators: Multiple coordinators are responsible for reviewing applications to include license reviews and preceptor forms, and they complete a degree audit to verify course prerequisites have been met. These staff members also process registrations for practicum courses.
  • Support field experience coordinator: Responsible for providing support for Meditrek® to include credentials, submitting applications, uploading documents, time logs, patient logs, and evaluations.
  • Field experience coordinator: Responsible for assisting students with the application process in general along with providing students support and guidance on searching for preceptors. This coordinator meets with students to provide support in searching for and identifying a site and preceptor nominee and understanding preceptors and field site requirements and to address general questions about practicum.
  • Field placement coordinator: Responsible for coaching and assisting students searching for preceptors and sites.  This coordinator provides 1:1 coaching support in search for and identifying a site and preceptor.  This coordinator works with students through the Practicum Pledge service. 

The field experience coordinators are available to students via live chat, email, phone, and personal phone appointment. Students are encouraged to contact the Office of Field Experience and talk with a field experience coordinator early in their program for guidance and personal assistance

Students may contact field experience for support via the Contact Us page.