McMaster University

McMaster University

Professional Practice Placements

Clinical placements are an integral part of fulfilling the McMaster School of Nursing's commitment to provide responsive and comprehensive quality education and to promote exemplary nursing practice. Quality clinical settings provide students from each of the three BScN programs, the Basic four year, the two year Post RN and the three year Post RPN streams, the opportunity to integrate the theories and concepts from the concurrent course work into the goals and objectives of the corresponding clinical placements.

Clinical placement sites vary each term depending on availability. Our catchment area includes sites in Hamilton, Halton, Peel, Niagara and Brant regions.

Global Health Professional Practice Placements may be pursued in the final year of the program.

Basic Stream

Post Diploma Streams

  • Level I
  • Level II
  • Level III
  • Level IV
  • Post RN Stream
  • Post RPN

Level I

Level 1 students take both PBL/PBL (N1F03 & N1G03) and professional practice courses (N1I02 & N1J02) in both the fall and winter terms.

Professional practice learning begins with N1I02 as students are introduced to beginning 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 the winter term in N1J02, learners continue to build the foundation for professional practice. Students develop skills in health assessment, including head to toe assessment of the healthy individual, obtaining a health history, and documenting their findings. Students also demonstrate skills to deliver safe, professional nursing care for healthy, stable clients in the clinical laboratory.

Level II

In Nursing 2L03 and 2P03 students engage in professional practice as novice nursing students and begin 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 opportunities 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 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:

  • Medical
  • 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)

Level III

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, a Maternal Child setting or in some Mental Health settings, 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 the course objectives.

Level IV

Consistent with the goal of the BScN Program to provide a general baccalaureate education to prepare nurses for a variety of clinical settings, the theme of Level IV is the 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 clinical practice with direct supervision by a clinical preceptor in a clinical setting with indirect supervision by a nursing faculty tutor.

Students have an opportunity to indicate preferences for clinical 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)

Some Examples of Basic Options

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:

  • 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

  • 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)

Post RN Stream

Nursing 4S06 and Nursing 4T06 promote the integration of theory and concepts with nursing practice in a variety of health care settings. Clinical practice provides the opportunity for students to pursue personal learning objectives, examine issues, and concepts relative to their role and to develop increasing skills and autonomy. Pre-requisite and concurrent tutorial and problem-based courses promote integration of critical thinking and clinical reasoning with practice. Although it is recommended to take both the theory and professional practice courses concurrently students may request special permission to take them independently.

Nursing 4S06 promotes theory-based nursing practice in a community heath care setting. The emphasis is on the application of knowledge and skills in the areas of health promotion, health education, client and community assessment, program planning and evaluation and client treatment and support. Students are eligible to register for this course after successful completion of a theoretical community nursing course. Nursing 4S06 consists of clinical practice with direct supervision by a clinical preceptor in the community setting and with indirect supervision by a School of Nursing (SON) faculty member.

Nursing 4T06 promotes theory-based nursing practice in a focus area of the student’s choice i.e. in direct patient care, or staff education. Emphasis is placed on the development of the student’s nursing role including clinical and professional competencies as a member of a health care team. The course consists of clinical practice with direct supervision by a clinical preceptor in the clinical setting and with indirect supervision by a SON faculty member.

Students should take note of pre-requisite courses as listed in the McMaster University Undergraduate Calendar. Please note all courses taken outside of McMaster University are subject to approval by the SON Office of the Coordinator of Studies.


  1. Students may apply for advanced standing to be exempted from either N4S06 or N4T06 if they hold a relevant valid Canadian Nurses’ Association Specialty Certificate CNA certification.


  2. Qualified students may challenge ONE of N4S06 or N4T06 by completing a Prior Learning Portfolio Challenge. Please click on the following links to review the process and criteria/requirements:


  3. Students who enrolled in the BScN Program prior to September 2001 have the additional option of using N4B06 instead of N4S06 if they have successfully completed N3WW3.

NB. All Diploma RN-BScN students MUST successfully complete at least one 4th year clinical course (N4S06 or N4T06) in order to meet the completion for the McMaster BScN Degree.

Course Schedule and Design: 

Students may register to complete N4S06 and N4T06 in any term of any session (Fall/Winter Term 1 or Term 2, Spring/Summer Term 3).

Examples of Placement Options for Nursing 4S06

  • Public Health
  • Community Care Access Centre
  • Visiting Nurses (e.g. VON, St. Joe’s Home Health or Bayshore)
  • Neonatal Follow-up Clinic
  • Any Outpatient Clinic, i.e. diabetic, COPD, mental health, etc.
  • Ambulatory Care Centre

Examples of Placement Options for Nursing 4T06

  • Acute care settings (e.g. medical, surgical or specialized settings)

Traditionally the Placement Coordinator (BScN Office) will find appropriate placements to meet the learning needs identified by students. However, post diploma students (Post RN Stream) may occasionally make initial inquiries with a placement site about a possible placement opportunity however a placement request form must be completed and submitted to the BScN Office within the appropriate timelines. Formal placement requests must be submitted by the middle of the term prior to the one the student intends to register for the course i.e. if the student intends to take N4T06 in January; the formal placement request form would have to be submitted by the second week in October. Formal negotiation of the placement must be completed through an institutional agreement with McMaster University (BScN Office) and the practice setting.

Post RPN

Please note that the last intake for this stream at McMaster was Fall 2010.  Any applicants interested in this stream should see information for the Post Diploma R.P.N. (E) Stream (Mohawk and Conestoga).

In Level III and Level IV students in the RPN to BScN Stream are integrated with students in the Basic Stream for clinical courses. Please see information provided under Basic Stream for details about placement options for the clinical courses in those levels.

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