Frequently Asked Questions

Student holding hand up in a classroom. Text on image states FAQ
Will I get to pick where my clinical placement takes place?

No. We oversee placements and will provide you with quality placements in various diverse locations. Clinical placements are arranged within Edmonton and the greater Edmonton area. If needed, placements may be arranged as far away as 150 kilometres from Edmonton. For the BScN-After Degree Program in Camrose, placements are in Camrose and surrounding communities up to 150 kilometres from Camrose.

Will I need my own car?

Students are responsible for their transportation to and from placements and for the costs of travel and accommodation (if applicable). We recommend students have their own vehicle or arrange to carpool with their classmates.

I have an extenuating circumstance that could affect my participation in my clinical placement, who do I talk to?

Any concerns should be communicated to the applicable Program or Year Coordinator prior to the assignment of placements.

Will I be paid for my clinical placement?

No. Clinical placements are unpaid positions.

I'm interested in a rural placement for my final clinical placement in the program. Who do I contact to discuss this?

For more information on undergoing your senior preceptorship in a rural setting, contact

I'm interested in an international placement for my final clinical placement in the program. Who do I contact to discuss this?

For more information about international options for NURS 485 and to read about the previous experiences of students who have participated in these opportunities, visit the Global Nursing Office's Student Opportunities page.

I have more questions about preceptorship. Where do I look?

If you are a current student and have more questions about NURS 485,, consult the FAQ document on eClass: FAQ for NURS 485 Placements.


Domestic & international student placements within Alberta Health Services (AHS)

Information regarding Student Placement Agreements (SPA’s), fitness to practice, international students seeking study and placement within Canada, and other general inquiries regarding student placements can be found here: Student Placement FAQs.

NURS 485 Placements FAQs

If you have any questions that are not answered below regarding NURS 485 Placements, please email

When do I select my area of interest for placement in my preceptorship course?
  1. You will fill out the online Google form (to be provided) for NURS 485 approximately 6 months prior to entering NURS 485.
  2. A preceptorship presentation will be conducted by the Clinical team representatives either in person or virtually. This presentation will include an explanation of the process of submitting your google form.
  3. The Google form will open for students after the Nursing 485 presentation. At that time you may indicate your preference. Please note that this form is typically open for a one week time period.
  4. Ensure that you are accessing the form from your U of A email account. If you cannot access the form from your email, you will need to sign out of your email, open a new browser, sign back into email and then access the form via the link provided.
What are the different areas of interest available?

General areas of interest you can indicate:

  • Acute Care
  • Indigenous Health
  • Mental Health
  • Community
  • Reproductive Health
  • Pediatric Health
  • Gerontology
  • Rural Health
I submitted the form, but would like to change my clinical preference and/or information provided. Is this possible?
  1. A copy of your form is emailed to your U of A account upon submission. Click the edit response button at the top to go to your form and change any information.
  2. Once the form closes the edit function will not work. When the form is closed and you wish to make a change please contact the Faculty of Nursing Clinical Placement Team
I submitted my area of interest when I was in a previous clinical course, do I have to submit it again?

Yes, any previous submission is not considered in the current preceptorship process.

The area of interest is broad, and I would like to be considered for a specific placement within that area?

In the comments section, you can state the specific type of placement you would prefer;
however, you are not guaranteed to receive it.

Here are some examples of focus areas that students have requested in the past, keeping in mind there is very limited or no capacity in certain areas at certain times:

  • Cardiology
  • Emergency
  • ICU
  • Labor & Delivery
  • Medicine
  • Mental Health
  • Neuroscience
  • NICU
  • Oncology/hematology
  • Operating Room
  • Orthopedics
  • Pediatrics
  • Postpartum
  • Public Health
  • Rehabilitation
  • Rural with diverse multiple services
  • Surgery
What should I do if there is a specific placement that I do not want to be considered for?

In the comments section, you can state the specific type of placement you would prefer not to be considered for.

Should I try to find my own placement?

Students are not permitted to arrange their own placements. Students are not to approach clinical areas as all institutions must use a centralized system called HSPnet to request placements.

Rationale: It is a formal placement arrangement that must meet clinical and preceptor criteria, organized and negotiated by the FoN, in partnership, with formal agreement, with the clinical health organization(s).

Should I try to find my own preceptor?

Students cannot request a specific preceptor. Preceptors are assigned by the destination coordinator for the unit. Preceptors are also unable to request specific students.

The preceptor selection process ensures that professional boundaries and evaluation criteria can be met.

What can I do to ensure that I have the most opportunities in NURS 485?
  • Keep in mind that it may not always be possible to place you in your specific area of interest due to clinical capacity; however, the placement team will assign a placement that optimally positions you for success in the course.
  • We encourage you to be open to other areas of nursing as there are always opportunities to learn and develop skills in any placement. There are many options and areas available to all students regardless of their grades including rural and international.
  • International clinical placements are only available in the Winter offering of Nursing 485, and may not be offered due to limiting factors such as COVID-19.
  • All areas offer the opportunity to learn the knowledge and skills to support a student successfully transitioning to the role of a beginning practitioner. It is important that students be open to the learning opportunities in the area to which they are assigned for Nursing 485.
  • All placements are regularly reviewed to ensure the clinical setting(s) meets the clinical criteria to support practice success for the student as per the course requirements.
How are decisions made regarding assigning students to a clinical placement area?

All clinical placement decisions are made by a Committee. The goal of the Committee is to match the student to an area which will support their success in transitioning from a senior nursing student to that of a beginning practitioner. The Committee considers a variety of factors, including:

  • grades in a variety of nursing theory courses,
  • prior clinical performance and confidence,
  • recommendations from clinical instructors,
  • the student’s identified area of interest, and
  • capacity of units to accommodate students for a preceptorship experience.

There are multiple nursing programs making requests in the Edmonton Zone for preceptorship experiences every term. If a clinical placement request is declined then an alternative placement is made. This may be in the same area or it may be in a different area if there is no further clinical capacity in the original area.

Clinical capacity of some areas is very limited. All units evaluate clinical placement requests from all nursing programs and then determine which requests can be accommodated. An example of a clinical area with limited capacity is postpartum. In the Edmonton Zone there are only three units available.

Can I request a location outside of Edmonton?

Provincial placements in locations outside of the Edmonton Zone are possible. Students must meet criteria that would indicate that they would be a good match. In other provinces it can be more challenging to secure a placement for an out of region student.

For example in British Columbia placements are guided by the following principles: students from local nursing programs are given 1st priority, students from nursing programs in the province are next in priority, lastly students from other provinces are considered for placements. Some areas with a lot of nursing programs such as the Vancouver area usually are not able to accommodate students from other provinces due to the large number of local students that need to be placed in all terms.

In addition, the University of Alberta or the Faculty of Nursing must have a Student Placement Agreement in place. This legal agreement allows students from the University of Alberta Faculty of Nursing to be able to request a placement. 

The HSPnet system is utilized for requesting clinical placements in other provinces and during the Winter term there is the possibility of doing an international placement in Ghana most years.

How will I find out about my placement?
  • Your placement will be posted on eClass approximately 1 to 2 weeks prior to the
    beginning of NURS 485.
  • The Clinical placement office team will contact you personally if there are unique issues
    for your request.
  • The Clinical placement office team does their very best to select a placement that will
    allow for your NURS 485 experience to be enjoyable, challenging and successful.
Can I trade my placement with another student?

It is not possible to trade placements with a peer as the best match for a placement is dependent on several factors (see FAQ "How are decisions made regarding assigning students to a clinical placement area?" above). The factors considered by the committee are in place to promote success in the practicum and agreements with the clinical agencies.

Will preceptorship impact my job prospects?

The preceptorship experience will not determine a new graduate’s job prospects. Students in our baccalaureate nursing programs are prepared as generalists entering professional nursing practice. NURS 485 learning outcomes are based on CARNA’s Entry to Practice Competencies, CASN’s framework for baccalaureate education, and all degree requirements for nursing, regardless of where students are placed in their practicum.

While the location of your preceptorship may at times factor in for hiring it is not the single factor considered. Students need to ensure that their resume highlights the knowledge and skills that they gained during their preceptorship and identify how this would be useful in the position to which they are applying. For example: being a positive team member is an asset to all areas of nursing. Organizational skills are important in all areas of nursing so identifying how you would be able to transfer these skills would be essential if you were applying for a position is an area with a different
focus from the area in which you completed your preceptorship. In addition, students have had exposure to many additional clinical areas in their group placements which can also be taken into consideration.

Will where I do my placement limit my competencies, or put me at a disadvantage when compared with other student experiences?

All NURS 485 clinical placements will allow a student to meet the required competencies for program completion.

The knowledge and skills gained in the placement area are usually transferable to other clinical areas. In addition, when you are hired into a specific location most clinical units provide new hires with an orientation to support their success as they transition to the role of a new practitioner. It is not possible to determine the competencies that area available in an area to which students are assigned due to the fluidity of unit focuses and changes in the healthcare system. Competencies are clinical skills that students can learn. It is not possible for a student to be exposed to all the competencies during their nursing program.

I was told that once students complete their program, they can be hired at the location where they completed their preceptorship. Is this true?

Students who complete a placement in an area where there is an open position need to apply according to the process of the clinical agency. It is not a given that if there is an opening a student who has completed a preceptorship is automatically given the position. Nursing 485 is a clinical course; it is not an expectation that units will hire students who complete their Nursing 485 placement on the unit.

What should I do to prepare for preceptorship?

The first part of the Nursing 485 course is designed to prepare you for the specific area to which you are assigned, facilitated by your assigned faculty instructor. It is recommended that you take advantage of all learning opportunities to prepare you. For example students may experience a Code situation in any area so it would be advantageous for all students to attend a simulation of a Code.

There is also helpful information about the student role in the online preceptorship manual.

What is my scope of practice in preceptorship?

Student scope of practice is clearly outlined in the Faculty of Nursing Clinical Policies for Undergraduate Students. There may be opportunities to perform more complex skills provided the student has completed the required theoretical and psychomotor knowledge within their program. Complex practice skills require return demonstration and direct supervision of a qualified RN at all times and/or where indicated. Specific scope of practice allowance is a decision the instructor makes in consultation with the clinical educators and/or manager at the agency. There is an array of skills that are not permitted within a student’s scope of practice and thus the student should always check with the instructor, preceptor and clinical educator/manager if unsure of a practice requirement.

Will I need to take on a full patient assignment by the end of the experience?

The decisions around your patient assignment will be determined by your preceptor, the clinical unit in conjunction with your clinical instructor. Patient assignments are determined by a variety of factors such as: the scope of practice of the RN in the specific unit, student’s competence and scope of practice. In some specialized units students may have a full patient assignment by the end of the experience but the preceptor still needs to complete some of the specialized care as it is outside of the student’s scope of practice.

What does a typical week in preceptorship look like, and how is this different from other clinical experiences?

The major difference between your preceptorship experience and other clinical courses is that you will work the full time shift schedule of your preceptor. This may involve 12 hour shifts, night shifts and weekends. In addition, students are integrated into the nursing team on the unit. Students work the full shift as there are no pre or post conferences. Students are required to complete 350 hours of clinical practice and meet the course requirements to successfully complete Nursing 485.

In addition, students have assignments that need to be completed to meet the requirements of Nursing 485 so they must also plan for this.

Who can I go to for support during my preceptorship?

During your preceptorship students may access support from their clinical instructor, preceptor, and fellow students.

The student advisor is the best person to speak to if a student has questions about their program and/or are personal considerations that go beyond the preceptorship course. There is a wealth of on-campus and virtual supports for students and those are listed on the Undergraduate Student Resource.

What have students' experiences been like in the past in various areas?
Visit the Undergraduate Student Resources webpage on the Faculty of Nursing website for more information regarding past student experiences and testimonials.
How am I assessed in preceptorship?

Students are assessed on their ability to meet course learning objectives and the competencies outlined in the Clinical Assessment Tool (CAT) and course assignments.

Students complete a CAT at midterm (~175 hours) and at final (350 hours). The preceptor is able to add their observations to the CAT document. The document is reviewed at Midterm and Final. During the course students are expected to seek feedback from their preceptor and instructor to determine areas for improvement so that students make the most clinical learning opportunities.

Does my preceptor decide if I pass or fail?

The decision regarding a student passing or failing Nursing 485 remains with the Faculty of Nursing. Your preceptor does provide you with feedback and makes comments on your Clinical Assessment Tool.

The grade decision is based on the student’s clinical performance and assignments. TheFaculty of Nursing makes the final determination regarding a pass or fail based on multiple factors including the context of the situation and broader goals of the baccalaureate nursing program.