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Individualized Learning Objectives

Walden expects that the practicum experience will allow students to focus on developing and strengthening discrete skills, as well as integrating a range of skills into a coherent professional identity. Students set specific goals for the practicum experiences that are consistent with their professional preparation and coursework. These goals inform the evaluation of their competencies at the end of the practicum.

In Week 1 of the practicum, students formulate two to three individualized Learning Objectives that they want to achieve during their practicum experience; these objectives are based on their previous assignments, practicum experiences, practice setting, and interests. As students approach the practicum, they should reflect on their coursework and identify two to three areas in which they feel the need for further growth or with which they might want application-level experience. In the Nursing Informatics specialization, for example, they might want to experience preparing a request for proposal (RFP); in the Nursing Education specialization, they might want more exposure to the use of simulation in nursing education; and in the Nurse Executive specialization, they might want more experience with the budget-analysis process. There are myriad areas and activities in which students can participate.

Students should discuss the ideas they identify with their preceptors and determine if the necessary resources are available at their placement sites. Then they prepare a set of measurable Learning Objectives, using Bloom’s Taxonomy, that specifies what they seek to achieve. These objectives must be approved by the practicum course Faculty Member or SME.

Preceptor Conference Call

In Week 2, students schedule a call with their preceptor and practicum course Faculty Member or SME to discuss the practicum experience. (Note: Students are responsible for coordinating, including ensuring all parties participate, and scheduling this call unless noted otherwise by the course Instructor.) During the call, the practicum Learning Objectives, practicum project, and required practicum hours will be discussed. This is a collaborative process among the Faculty Member/SME, preceptor, and student. Before the call, students should talk with their preceptor about potential projects. Students write their practicum Learning Objectives in Week 1 of the course; practicum course Faculty Members or SMEs will approve students’ self-developed Learning Objectives after the call, by the end of Week 2.

The conference call is intended to ensure that:

  • The practicum goals are being addressed.
  • Students and preceptors understand the key points of the practicum experience.
  • An opportunity for questions is provided.
  • Problems are identified and addressed.

Per guidance form WA state NCQAC, practicum taking place in Washington State must include preceptor, faculty, and student conferral all three together at the beginning, midpoint, and end of the learning experience (WAC 246-840-533.)

Journal

Students must periodically submit a journal entry showing how theoretical underpinnings may apply to a selected practicum experience and how that one aspect of their practicum is consistent with or different from learned theory.

The purpose of the journal is to identify activities, issues, or problems that show how theory is or is not applied and supported in the nursing practice specialization. Drawing from theoretical constructs learned in this program and the specialization content, Learning Outcomes, and competencies, students analyze their practicum experience.

In a 1-page journal entry (250–300 words), students reflect on their practicum experiences and discuss how practices they observe or conduct differ from (or are in agreement with) substantiated theory. Students focus on one instance of this similarity or gap for each journal entry.

In each journal entry, students do the following:

  • Describe a selected observed activity or situation (no more than 1/2 page).
  • Analyze observations in the context of a selected theory.
  • State conclusions regarding the fit of the selected theory to the selected event.
  • Offer recommendations for improving the fit, if needed.
  • Include APA-style citations and references.

Students must submit a journal entry when due, even if they are not on-site that week. If they are not on-site for a week in which a journal entry is due, they must reflect on experiences from any of the previous weeks of the practicum.

Logs in Meditrek®

Using Meditrek®, students keep a daily time log of the time they spend on practicum activities. Time logs are signed off by preceptors and Instructors at the end of the course after the completion of logs. Students are not permitted to sign off on time logs on behalf of the preceptor.

Timeline for Preceptors and Field Sites Programmed in Meditrek®

  • Week 1: Preceptors and field sites are programmed in Meditrek® for drop-down options in time logs at the end of Week 1 for approved applications.
  • Each Friday: If an application is approved after the course starts, the preceptor and field site will be populated weekly on Fridays.
  • Week 3: Preceptors are emailed their Meditrek® credentials Monday of Week 3 of the course. Preceptors use their Meditrek® credentials to sign off on time logs and complete evaluations. For preceptors who have not received their Meditrek® credentials, they are encouraged to check their spam/junk email folders or submit a request for credentials to be resent by completing the Meditrek Credentials Request Form.

Note: If students are unable to find their preceptor or field site in the drop-down box after Week 1 and their application has been approved more than 1 week, they should email nursingfield@mail.waldenu.edu.

Time Log

Using Meditrek®, students are required to keep a truthful and accurate log of the time they actually spend in practicum activities. Each time log entry must be linked with an individual practicum Learning Objective, a Project Objective, or a Graduate Program Objective.

Students must enter their hours in Meditrek® within 1 week of completing the hours. Students must submit time logs the same weeks that journal entries are required.

Preceptors sign off on the time logs at the end of the course after the completion of hours. The preceptor must be approved in Meditrek® for the correct term and course to sign off on student time logs. Students are responsible to ensure the preceptor signs off on the time logs in Meditrek®. Students are NOT permitted to sign off on time logs on behalf of preceptors.

The time log must include the following:

  • Faculty/SME name(s)
  • Preceptor name(s)
  • Week
  • Dates
  • Total hours for the week
  • Activities/comments: Brief description of what students did or observed during each time interval
  • Student Learning Objectives: Objectives that relate to each time interval
  • Course outcomes addressed

All time log entries must be entered in Meditrek® by the end of Week 10 (Week 11 for Tempo Learning® students).

For course-based students, if students are approved to log practicum hours after Week 10, with the Faculty Instructor’s approval, the time log entries must be entered in Meditrek® by the end of the last Sunday before the next term begins. Students will not be able to enter or edit time log entries after the first Sunday of the next term. If students receive a grade of Incomplete (I) for the course and need to log practicum hours after the next term begins, they must submit a remedial practicum application. Students should contact the Office of Field Experience for more information.

Note: Students are responsible to ensure time logs are entered correctly and accurately. Students must ensure logs are accurate and correct by selecting the correct course, quarter, faculty/SME, and preceptor. Students are only able to enter logs on or after the date the preceptor was approved in Meditrek®. Students may make changes and edits to logs until either the preceptor and/or Faculty signs the logs in Meditrek®. Once the time logs are signed by either the preceptor or Faculty/SME, they cannot be changed or edited by students. If students mistakenly enter logs incorrectly and the logs are signed, students must contact the Office of Field Experience to invalidate the logs, and then the student will need to reenter the time logs. The Office of Field Experience is unable to backdate logs after the term ends. Students will lose practicum hours if they are not logged by the end of the term in Meditrek®.

Also Note: Concerns regarding truthfulness or accuracy of Meditrek® logs or preceptor approval of Meditrek® logs will result in a Code of Conduct inquiry that could result in a sanction up to and including dismissal from the university. Student found to have falsified their Meditrek® logs or preceptor approval of Meditrek® logs will be subject to disciplinary action, including but not limited to course failure and permanent dismissal from the university. For more information about the Code of Conduct, please refer to the Walden University Student Handbook: Code of Conduct.

Beginning Practicum Hours After Course Begins

Students may NOT begin any practicum hours before (a) the start of the course, (b) they receive practicum application approval in Meditrek from the Office of Field Experience, (c) they are registered for the practicum course, and (d) they receive approval from the practicum course instructor once the course begins.  Students are only to complete practicum hours with preceptors and at practicum site locations that have been approved by the Office of Field Experience in Meditrek®.  If students log hours with an unapproved preceptor, these hours will not count toward the practicum hour requirement of the course and program.

Note: Concerns regarding truthfulness or accuracy of Meditrek® logs or preceptor approval of Meditrek® logs will result in a Code of Conduct inquiry. Students who are found to have falsified their Meditrek® logs or preceptor approval of Meditrek® logs will be subject to disciplinary action. Failure to notify the Office of Field Experience and assigned Faculty, as stated above, will result in a Code of Conduct inquiry and may result in disciplinary action, including course failure and permanent dismissal from the university. For more information about the Code of Conduct, please refer to the Walden University Student Handbook: Code of Conduct.

Change of Preceptor After the Practicum Course Begins

Students whose approved preceptor becomes unavailable for any reason after their course begins must:

  •  Notify the assigned Faculty Member or SME immediately to discuss the impact of completing course requirements and the option of receiving an Incomplete (I) grade to gain additional time to log hours with a new preceptor.
  •  Notify the Office of Field Experience immediately. The Office of Field Experience staff will open a new replacement application for the student in Meditrek® if the student has a replacement preceptor.
  • Submit a new replacement application in Meditrek® and nominate a new preceptor, who must meet all preceptor requirements, and the nominee must be approved before the student can continue to log hours. If the new preceptorship requires relocation to a new practicum site, then it is likely the practicum experience will be delayed if an Affiliation Agreement is not on file.
  • Wait until the new practicum application is approved before logging hours. Practicum hours logged prior to application approval will NOT be allowed to count toward the practicum course requirements.

Timeline for Preceptors and Field Sites Programmed in Meditrek®

  • Week 1: Preceptors and field sites are programmed in Meditrek® for drop-down options in time logs at the end of Week 1 for approved applications.
  • Each Friday: If an application is approved after the course starts, the preceptor and field site will be populated weekly on Fridays.
  • Week 3: Preceptors are emailed their Meditrek® credentials on Monday of Week 3 of the course. Preceptors use their Meditrek® credentials to sign off on time logs and complete evaluations. Preceptors who have not received their Meditrek® credentials are encouraged to check their spam/junk email folders or submit a request for credentials to be re-sent by completing the Meditrek Credentials Request Form.


Note: If students are unable to find their preceptor or field site in the drop-down box more than a week after application approval, please email nursingfield@mail.waldenu.edu.

Grades

Dismissal from a practicum experience by a preceptor and/or practicum site may lead to a course failure.

Incomplete Grade and Remedial Applications

Grades of Incomplete (I) are given at the discretion of the Course Instructor. Incomplete may be granted only if students have already met the minimum criteria in a course and have acceptably completed approximately 80% of the course requirements, including practicum hours, prior to the last day of classes.

Students must work directly with their Course Instructor to determine eligibility of an Incomplete (I) grade. If the Course Instructor grants an Incomplete (I) grade, students must establish a plan to complete the practicum requirements directly with the Course Instructor.

If the Course Instructor does grant a grade of Incomplete (I) and students will need to complete practicum hours during the next term, students must have a remedial application approved in Meditrek® for the next term.

Once students are officially issued a grade of Incomplete (I), they must contact the Office of Field Experience to open a remedial application to complete and submit. Students must have an approved remedial application in Meditrek® in order to begin or continue logging practicum hours to finish remaining hours for the course.
Note: Students must NOT log practicum hours until the remedial application is approved.

Failing Grades

If students fail a prerequisite course for a practicum course, they are responsible to contact Student Success Advising to discuss the program of study and develop a plan. Students must also contact the Office of Field Experience to discuss options regarding practicum applications. Depending on timing of the next term start, students may NOT be approved to retake a practicum course if another application must be approved for the failed course and the student is using a different preceptor or site.