Core Reference Material

A nurse shows two colleagues a reading on a diagnostic device
Rush University College of Nursing basic curriculum

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is now the terminal degree for most Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) students. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) estimates about 300 schools now offer a DNP program and about 125 more are planning to convert their master’s level APRN programs to a doctoral level.

The move to the DNP began in 2004 after considerable study by nursing organizations of the workforce needed to address 21st century health care demands. The DNP provides students with all the content/training of traditional master’s programs but includes additional preparation in evidence-based practice, quality improvement and systems leadership.

With DNP preparation the hope is that APRNs will continue to provide excellent clinical services and in addition enhance patient care through the application of evidence-based interventions and the use of data-based methods to improve health care delivery processes and systems.

Clinical Practicum course objectives

All preceptors receive the course syllabus for the Rush University College of Nursing course that corresponds to the clinical training.

In that syllabus there is information for students on how they are to submit clinical notes to the faculty and also enter de-identified demographic data on the patients see in clinical.

Course objectives

At the completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  1. Implement “best current evidence” to improve health care quality, access, safety and outcomes
  2. Implement practice innovations that incorporate the principles of change
  3. Apply a variety of concepts, principles and theories from the humanities, behavioral, public health and nursing sciences to patient/population care management
  4. Demonstrate achievement in population- or specialty-specific competencies as appropriate
  5. Demonstrate competence and leadership in the professional role
  6. Manage and negotiate healthcare delivery systems; monitor and ensure the quality of healthcare practice

At any time if you have a question about the course, documentation or student expectations, please feel free to contact the student’s assigned clinical faculty member at the College of Nursing. The student will provide you with the name and contact information.

College of Nursing academic calendar
  • The Rush University College of Nursing operates on a semester system:
    • Each semester lasts 15 weeks
    • Fall semester usually begins the day after Labor Day
    • Spring semester begins the day after New Year’s Day, and includes a week-long Spring Break
    • Summer semester begins the first Monday of May
  • Students are to be in clinical 14 weeks, but the hours per term may vary
  • Students should work with preceptors to assure mid-term and final evaluations are completed during weeks 7 and 14
College of Nursing responsibilities

The Rush University College of Nursing and faculty are responsible for the evaluation of student outcomes that include the clinical experience and setting of the clinical rotation.

In addition, program faculty must ensure that the APRN student acquires the content and competencies that are included in the AACN DNP essentials and the nationally recognized APRN role and population.

Our verification of the student’s achievements of focused competencies and content is required by certifying bodies where graduates of the program are eligible to seek national certification.

Program faculty are responsible for communicating to the Clinical Preceptor the level, the intended clinical progression and the outcome objectives for the clinical rotation of the APRN student during each clinical rotation experience.

The College of Nursing is also responsible for assuring all contracts and affiliation agreements with clinical sites.

Student evaluations

There are several components to the clinical evaluation of our students. The preceptor evaluation is a critical piece of this process. You will have two chances in a semester to give a formal evaluation.

  • Download the Rush University College of Nursing CET as a Word document or PDF file

Midterm evaluation

The midterm evaluation could be considered a formative evaluation. Preceptors do utilize the Rush University College of Nursing Clinical Evaluation Tool (CET) but it might be thought of as a progress report. The CET was developed by the College of Nursing but contains criteria in nine sections that align with national DNP competencies.

At midterm you provide the student with feedback on their performance thus far and areas to focus on for continued growth and improvement. It is an excellent time to reflect on strengths, needed improvements and strategies to realize improvement, such as particular types of patients that the student might focus on, or particular elements of the treatment process.

However if the student is not scoring at the level appropriate to their clinical semester progression, a discussion with the clinical faculty should be arranged and an Academic Improvement Plan initiated.

Final evaluation

The final evaluation occurs at the end of the semester, again utilizing the Rush University College of Nursing CET. Prior to the meeting, the student should have completed a self-evaluation on the same criteria. Similar to midterm, the preceptor “scores” each item n a 1—5 Likert scale:

  • 1: Does not meet objectives
  • 2: Routinely needs continual guidance to meet objective
  • 3: Demonstrates progress toward meeting the objective
  • 4: Meets specific objective frequently
  • 5: Meets specific objective consistently
  • NA (not applicable): Student action was not evaluated

At the top of the CET there are expectations for progress depending on the semester. Some competencies require a score of 5 for the student to continue to their next term. There is also space for written comments. The student’s self-evaluation should be considered during evaluation discussions.

Evaluation in the clinical course

In addition to the scores reflected on the Clinical Evaluation form, students also submit written notes and intakes the clinical faculty. The faculty reviews each note and provides students feedback on their clinical reasoning, thoroughness, clarity of thought and appropriateness of treatment plan.

The student’s final grade depends on their completion of the required hours, submitting the specified number of notes to the clinical faculty and the Clinical Evaluation form. The required scores on competency cues depend on the semester.

Students are expected to score at least 2—3 for each validating competency in first term of clinical, 3—4 in second term and 4—5 in last term or Residency (unless a score of NA is appropriate for the clinical practicum setting). Preceptors should always feel free to contact the clinical faculty with specific questions or concerns.

We encourage preceptors to be as honest as possible with the student, even if this requires giving the student a low or failing grade. The appropriate feedback is critical to ensuring that students are receiving the feedback that they require to improve.

Your evaluations provide much more value than simply acting as a stick or carrot. Your evaluations carry weight: a recent study of students concluded that detailed comments are the most effective motivators for performance improvement. That’s why we ask our preceptors to provide detailed, actionable strategies for improvement that students can use on a practical level.

College of Nursing programs

Rush University College of Nursing has programs in the following areas:

  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (Primary and Acute Care)
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • Adult-Gero Nurse Practitioner (Primary and Acute Care)
  • Neonatal Practitioner
  • Pediatric and Neonatal Clinical Nurse Specialty
  • Adult-Gero Acute Care Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist
  • Public Health Nurse