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About Professional Practice

nurses_2The McMaster School of Nursing is committed to providing ​nursing students with a responsive,comprehensive, high-quality education. One that promotes exemplary nursing practice. In preparing ​future nurses for a variety of clinical settings, students are given the opportunity to integrate the theories and concepts from concurrent course work into the goals and objectives of their corresponding professional practice placements.

​Professional Practice placement sites vary each term depending on availability. Our catchment area includes Halton, Peel, Niagara, Brant, Haldimand-Norfolk, and Wellington regions (McMaster and Mohawk sites); and Kitchener-Waterloo, Wellington, Brant, and Halton regions (Conestoga site).

Students are responsible for arranging their own travel to and from learning settings and for covering any costs incurred. 

International and outpost placement settings may be pursued in the final year of the program. For more information, please visit Global Health Professional Practice Placements.

The BScN Program has three distinct, yet related streams.

Where possible and appropriate, students from all streams share learning experiences, and all ​experience a common final year of study. 

Click below to learn more about Professional Practice Placements by Level.

Basic (A) Stream Students 

Professional practice learning begins with NURSING 1I02 as students are introduced to patient assessment, communication, and intervention skills in the clinical laboratory. Students begin to develop an understanding of the role of the nurse, the scope of nursing practice, and explore the nursing profession. In NURSING 1J02, students continue to build the foundation for professional practice developing skills in health assessment (including head to toe assessment of the healthy individual), obtaining a health history, and documenting findings. Students must demonstrate the skills necessary to deliver safe, professional nursing care to healthy, stable clients in the clinical laboratory.

 Basic (A) Stream Students 

In NURSING 2L03 and NURSING 2P03 students engage in professional practice to develop an understanding of self as a nurse. The principles of evidence-informed decision making provide the foundation for development of basic care skills. While participating in labs, simulation and professional practice experiences, students explore and apply relevant concepts and theories and begin to understand the influence of diversity on patient care. Students have an opportunity to apply critical inquiry skills and engage in the beginning stages of clinical reasoning/clinical judgment skills in the care of their patients. In the professional practice setting, students develop professional relationships with patients, families and other health care professionals. Students begin to appreciate ethical issues within professional practice and explore how the knowledge learned in supporting courses can be applied to patient care.

The placement options for Level II fall into two categories:

  1. Medical
  2. Surgical

A student who is assigned to a placement from the first category in Term 1 will then be placed in a setting from the second category for Term 2, and vice versa.

Some Examples of Medical Options:

  • General Medicine (e.g. Juravinski E3, F3; Hamilton General 8W, 8S; Oakville-Trafalgar Memorial Hospital 4E)
  • Complex Continuing Care (e.g. St. Peter’s 4East/4West)
  • Geriatric Assessment (e.g. St. Joseph’s Medical Assessment Unit/Geriatric Assessment Unit)

Some Examples of Surgical Options:

  • Orthopedic Surgery (e.g. Juravinski E2, F5)
  • Women’s Surgery (e.g. McMaster 4B)
  • Musculoskeletal Surgery (e.g. St. Joseph’s Healthcare 7 MSK)

Basic (A) Stream, Basic-Accelerated (F) Stream, and Post-RPN (E) Stream Students 

Nursing 3X04 and 3Y04 are professional nursing practice courses that provide the opportunity to implement clinical reasoning in care of individuals using a person centered approach that integrates concepts and theory from nursing, biological, behavioural and social sciences. With a focus on nursing interventions, theses courses address a broad range of clinical skills including scientific and humanistic caring, clinical and ethical decision making, critical thinking and inter-professional communication and practice. Responsibility for own professional growth through self-direction and self-evaluation is demonstrated through analysis of own role and function as a learner, caregiver and professional in the broader health care system.

The placement options for Level III fall into two broad categories:

  1. Medical/Surgical
  2. Varied Nursing Contexts

A student who is assigned to a placement from the first category in Term 1 will then be placed in a setting from the second category for Term 2, and vice versa.

Some Examples of Medical/Surgical Options

Adult Population:

    • Oncology (Medicine and Surgery) (e.g. Juravinski C3)
    • Neurology/Neurosurgery
    • Cardiovascular Surgery (e.g. Hamilton Health Sciences, General 5 West)
    • Orthopedic Surgery
    • Gastrointestinal Surgery (e.g. St. Joseph’s Healthcare, 6 G.I. Surgery)
    • Medical (e.g. Hamilton Health Sciences, General 4 West)

Pediatric Population:

    • Pediatric Medicine (Primary) and Surgery (Minimal) (e.g. The Hospital for Sick Children)
    • Pediatric Surgery and Intermediate Care (e.g. Hamilton Health Sciences, McMaster 3C)

Some Examples of Varied Nursing Context Options:

    • Rehabilitation (e.g. St. Peters, Rehab)
    • Maternal-Newborn Family-Centred Care (e.g. Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital, Maternal/Child/Combined Care)
    • Long Term Care (e.g. Shalom Village)
    • Acute Inpatient Psychiatry (e.g. St. Joseph’s West 5th Campus)
    • Non-acute Inpatient Psychiatry
    • Community-based Psychiatry (e.g. St. Joseph’s West 5th Campus)
    • Palliative Care/Hospice (e.g. Carpenter Hospice)

It is important to note that while in a Medical/Surgical, Maternal Child, or Mental Health setting, students are supervised directly by their Clinical Tutor. In other Varied Nursing Context settings, however, students may have a Preceptor (a staff nurse employed by the placement setting). In the latter case, students meet regularly with their Professional Practice Tutor to review their progress with respect to achieving the course objectives.

Basic (A) Stream, Basic-Accelerated (F) Stream, and Post-RPN (E) Stream Students 

Consistent with the goal of the BScN Program to provide a general baccalaureate education to prepare nurses for a variety of professional practice settings, the theme of Level 4 is enactment of the nursing role. The emphasis is placed upon the student’s clinical competencies and professional accountability and responsibilities as a member of a health care team.

NURSING 4J07 and ​NURSING 4K07 focus on the integration of research and application of theory and concepts to clinical practice, including the introduction to the leadership role in patient care. Students are individually placed in a variety of contexts, where they are actively involved in the enactment of the nursing role. These courses consist of professional practice with direct supervision by a clinical preceptor in a clinical setting with indirect supervision by a nursing faculty member.

Students have an opportunity to indicate preferences for professional practice placements but final clinical placement assignment will be determined by the BScN Program. Clinical placements are available in acute care, community (including public health), and specialized settings.

The placement options for Level IV fall into two categories:

  1. Basic
  2. Specialty (advanced academic standing required)

Examples of Basic Options Include:

Adult Population:

  • Medical Unit (e.g. Hamilton Health Sciences, Hamilton General 8 West)
  • Surgical Unit ( e.g. St. Joseph’s Healthcare 6 GI surgery)
  • Post Cardiac (e.g. Hamilton Health Sciences, General 5 South)
  • Oncology (e.g. Hamilton Health Sciences, Juravinski C3)
  • Psychiatry (e.g. St. Joseph’s East Region Mental Health)
  • Maternity (e.g. Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital, Post Partum/Combined Care)
  • Outpatient Care (e.g. Hamilton Health Sciences, McMaster Diabetic Clinic)
  • Long Term Care (e.g. St. Peter’s Hospital)

Pediatric Population:

  • Medical Unit (e.g. Hamilton Health Sciences, McMaster Children’s Hospital, McMaster 3B)
  • Surgical Unit (e.g. Hamilton Health Sciences, McMaster Children’s Hospital, McMaster 3C)
  • Oncology (e.g. Hamilton Health Sciences, McMaster Children’s Hospital)

Other Opportunities Include:

  • Occupational Health (e.g. Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers)
  • Public Health
  • Community Agencies (e.g. VON)
  • Palliative Care/Hospice (e.g. Carpenter Hospice)
  • Detention Centre
  • Same Day Surgery
  • Ambulatory Care

Examples of Specialty Options Include:

  • Intensive Care Unit (ICU)
  • Cardiac Care Unit (CCU)
  • Emergency Room (ER)
  • Operating Room (OR)
  • Post Anesthetic Care Unit (PACU)
  • Labour and Delivery (L&D)
  • Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU)
  • Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)
  • Registered Nurses Association of Ontario (RNAO)
  • International/Outpost Settings (placements in developing countries or outpost Canadian settings)

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