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Specializations Overview

The practicum experience helps students transition from the role of learner to that of scholar-practitioner. To achieve this transition, students develop and engage in a relationship with their Practicum Faculty and an approved preceptor, focusing on roles and role functions; the achievement of individualized Learning Objectives; and the completion of a project conceptualized by them and their preceptor, and approved by their practicum course Faculty Member or SME. Practicum courses or practicum competencies (Tempo Learning®) are designed to be the capstone experience for students. The practicum experience requires students to apply the knowledge, concepts, and skills that they have acquired in their didactic courses during their program of study  particularly in relation to their specialization. Therefore, didactic courses should be completed prior to entering practicum courses.

The primary objective of the practicum is to guide students to focus on a role that they are interested in occupying after the completion of the MSN program. Here are some examples:

  • Nurse Executive: Under the guidance of a preceptor in a leadership role, students apply knowledge, theories, and expertise in leadership and management to the practicum experience.
  • Nursing Education: Under the guidance of a preceptor in an education role, students apply knowledge, theories, and expertise in a nursing school, community, or staff-development setting. Additionally, students further advance their knowledge in a clinical specialty area of their choice through experiential opportunities related to educating students, patients, and/or staff.
  • Nursing Informatics: Under the guidance of a preceptor in informatics, students apply their new knowledge and expertise in the nursing informatics role. Examples of appropriate settings include information systems development organizations, hospitals, and clinics.
  • Public Health Nursing: Under the guidance of a preceptor in the public health nursing role, students apply knowledge, theories, and expertise in the assessment and development of culturally competent interventions targeted at community and population levels. Additionally, students will further develop their management and leadership skills with an emphasis on public health program evaluation.

Additional Costs Associated With Practicum

Walden wants all students to be aware of the costs associated with practicum, which may vary depending on a number of factors. Generally, students will incur and are responsible for paying costs associated with completing practicum. Examples of costs include, but not limited to, the following: travel to/from practicum site; relocation costs; living costs during practicum; books; course materials; professional liability insurance; onboarding/administrative fees required by practicum sites; health insurance; costs associated with completion/renewal of onboarding requirements (e.g., immunizations, physical exam, CPR certification, HIPAA and OSHA training, etc.); state licensing fees; photo ID badge; additional onboarding requirements of practicum site; lab coat, if required by practicum site; stethoscope (NP courses); additional equipment costs; etc.

Note: Walden does not expect students to pay preceptors, practicum sites, or site placement agencies and discourages students from doing so, due to conflicts of interest that can arise. Students who enter into payment arrangements with preceptors, practicum sites, or site placement agencies do so at their own risk.

Students who have questions about costs associated with practicum should contact Nursing Field Experience Office.

Required Activities

Students must satisfactorily complete all the requirements of their practicum courses or practicum competencies in accordance with the information provided in the Course Syllabi. Students complete the didactic portion of the track online. Students are not allowed to take multiple practicum courses concurrently. Students must receive a grade of Satisfactory (S) for the clinical components in courses that have integrated didactic (theory) and practicum components to successfully pass the course. They earn 5 quarter credits and receive a letter grade on a 4.0-grading scale for each course.

Note: Students who changed specializations through enrollment and/or had to reenroll after a break in enrollment are readmitted under a newer catalog than the original catalog of admission. To confirm which catalog you are enrolled under, please contact Student Success Advising.

MSN Practicum Courses by Specialization for Catalog Year Beginning Spring 2019

Practicum Hours & Activities

Students must complete the required hours of combined role practice and project hours during the 10 weeks allotted to the practicum experience (11 weeks for Tempo Learning® students). They may start logging practicum hours during the first week of the course provided they have received a practicum approval notice from the field experience coordinators and their Practicum Faculty Member or SME. Students must complete all practicum hours for each course by the end of Week 10 (Week 11 for Tempo Learning® students).

NOTE: Students may not log any hours before the start of the course or before they receive approval and are registered for the course.

The practicum project is part of the practicum hours and should not consume more than one third of the practicum hours for NURS 6351 and one half of the practicum hours for NURS 6600 and NURS 6461. Students cannot log hours on the project until their conference call and Learning Objectives are approved by the preceptor and course Faculty Member or SME. Students are responsible for ensuring that all parties participate in the conference call.

The following activities count toward required practicum hours:

  • Activities that are directly related to the completion of practicum goals and objectives
  • Shadowing the preceptor including observations that allow students to gain clinical exposure and experience so they can perform required tasks/skills required by the practicum experience

Note: Shadowing should be kept to a minimum—no more than 20% of the time in each practicum course—and a debriefing session with the preceptor is recommended after each shadowing experience.
Also Note: Shadowing the preceptor in NURS 6341 is not an approved activity.

  • Attendance at meetings
  • Preparation of all materials directly related to completion of the practicum
  • Activities related to the practicum project

The following activities are not included as practicum hours (Note: This is not an exhaustive list.):

  • Travel time related to and from practicum activities
  • Communication (e.g., emails, phone calls), unless conferencing or doing project-related communications
  • Assignments related to the didactic portion of the course
  • Meal breaks

Note: Practicum hours are course and term specific. Practicum hours do not carry over to a different term or practicum course if a student withdraws, drops a course, or fails a course.

Practicum Project

Students do not complete research in their practicum course. Instead, they design and implement a project that they base on research and scholarly literature.

Practicum Project Guidelines

Major practicum project guidelines are as follows:
  • Determine if a project is a real-world problem and scan the practicum setting environment.
    • What are the issues related to the specialization that are recognized as serious?
  • In addition, consider Walden’s mission of positive social change.
    • How does the project promote improvement of the human and social condition by creating and applying ideas to promote the development of individuals, communities, and/or organizations, as well as society as a whole?
  • Consult the literature, as well as the preceptor and leaders, within the field.
  • Review current professional practice standards to determine if the standards are being met in the practicum setting.
  • Plan the scope of the project so that it is possible to complete the project during the practicum time frame.
  • Organize the project into sections so that it can be implemented and evaluated, when feasible.
  • Develop a product that can be shared in the practice setting and other professional venues.

In Week 2 of the practicum course, students begin to formulate project ideas. They work closely with preceptors and practicum course Faculty Members or SMEs to identify a topic that meets a need within the organization where they are doing their practicum. Students develop three or more project objectives. (Note: Project Objectives are separate from Learning Objectives.) Final approval for the project must come from practicum course Faculty Members or SMEs. Practicum projects may not begin until students receive approval.

The practicum project is calculated as part of the practicum hours but cannot constitute more than one third of the practicum hours for Nursing Education (NURS 6351) and no more than one half for Nurse Executive (NURS 6600), Nursing Informatics (NURS 6461) and Public Health Nursing (NURS 6720 and 6730). Project hours must be completed on-site.

Note: Hours logged in Meditrek® for working on a project prior to project approval will not be counted and will have to be made up.

The practicum project is developed and completed in NURS 6600, for students in the Nurse Executive tracks; NURS 6600 (catalog prior to Spring 2019) or NURS 6461 (catalog beginning Spring 2019), for the Nursing Informatics tracks; and developed and completed in NURS 6351, for students in the Nursing Education track. Students in the Public Health Nursing track will fully develop their practicum project in NURS 6720 and will then implement and complete their projects in NURS 6730.

The items listed below compose the major parts of the project:
  • Introduction
  • Goal statement that identifies what students expect to accomplish, a focus area, and the population
  • Background about the real-world problem and topic area
  • Three to five measurable Project Objectives (using Bloom’s taxonomy as a guide)
  • Evidence-based review of the literature
  • Methodology (i.e., how students will accomplish the objectives)
  • Resources needed
  • Formative evaluation
  • Summative evaluation
  • Timeline
  • Conclusion

At the end of the practicum course, students create a PowerPoint presentation of their practicum project. Students give a summary presentation of the entire experience to their class and practicum Course Faculty. Students also present the project to selected individuals at their practicum site. More detailed presentation guidelines are provided in the practicum course.


Course-based students submit the final portfolio in the practicum course. Students in the Tempo Learning® modality submit their final portfolio as an assessment within a designated competency in their practicum Area of Expertise (AOE). They update any portfolio items that need editing or revision based on Faculty comments. Assignments from the practicum course are added to the portfolio, and students may add other items as well. The final portfolio will be examined for content and format to ensure it is a professional representation of accomplishments. Students then have a comprehensive professional portfolio to use as they start the next phase of their career.