Do Nurses Get Paid for Clinicals?

When I was in nursing school, figuring out how to make ends meet was a big deal, and something I stressed about a lot. Just like me, you might also have similar worries.

One of the questions that came up continuously as a result of those concerns was about nursing school clinicals. Specifically, if nursing students get compensated during their clinical experience. I’ve seen it asked in so many ways… 

  • “Do you get paid for attending RN clinicals?” 
  • “Do you get paid for LPN/LVN clinicals?” 
  • “Do you get paid for clinicals in nursing school?” 

Even nurses attending clinicals for their Master of Science in nursing (MSN) have wondered the same thing. 

So, do nurses get paid for clinicals? No. Nursing students do not get paid for their clinical experience. Clinicals are part of your schooling experience except you get to be in a real-world learning environment monitored by an experienced licensed nurse. Because it is part of your education, it is something you’re technically paying for as a result of your tuition and fees.

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What are Clinicals for Nursing Students? 

Clinicals truly are an essential part of nursing school education.

As I mentioned above, clinicals are hands down the best way for nursing students to get an authentic experience that can never really be simulated in a classroom. 

Depending on your school and what nursing degree you’re trying to get (LPN/LVN, ADN, BSN, APRN), your clinical experience could be just about anywhere. Some examples could be:

  • Nursing home (see nursing home nurse) 
  • Doctor’s office (see doctor’s office nursing) 
  • Operating room (see operating room nursing) 
  • Intensive care Unit (see ICU nursing) 

The options vary so much. I listed above some of the more common ones, but I’ve had a clinical rotation in an adult daycare before and to my knowledge that’s not very common.

For me at that time, I didn’t even know facilities that offered that service existed. 

In my clinical experiences, I was able to see and experience things that you can’t emulate in a classroom.

For example, running a simulation code in your nursing school practice lab with a robotic manikin doesn’t hold a candle to seeing it done for real in clinicals. 

Why Not Getting Paid for Your Nursing Clinical Will Frustrate You

It’s going to be frustrating not getting paid for nursing school clinicals for a handful of reasons.

1. Your spending a lot of time in clinicals. A lot of time! Depending on what nursing degree you’re getting there are going to be weeks where you’re putting in as many hours as a part-time staff and some weeks where you’re putting in as much as a full-time staff. On top of it… 

2. You’re putting in as much effort as the other staff when you’re there. I have precepted and have seen countless nursing students come through and what I can say is there’s plenty of them that stand back and don’t do a whole lot.

You can tell they’re just there just to be there. On the other hand, we get some nursing student who are there to work and learn. They’re hustling helping to give bed baths and so forth.

Some of those nursing students are working just as hard if not harder than some of the staff. 

3. You’re having a hard time making ends meet. If you’re in nursing school, there’s a pretty good chance that you think about your finances a lot.

That or you try not to think about it, but it’s still in the back of your mind. You were probably hoping you got paid for nursing school clinicals to help offset some of the costs of nursing school. 

As a quick side note, it might be a budgeting issue. If that’s the case learning how to budget would be a good start. We wrote an article on budgeting tips for nurses, that’s all about budgeting.

Why You’re Not Getting Paid for Clinicals

I mentioned all the reasons why you might feel like you should be paid for clinicals. When it boils down to it there are many reasons, but I’m only going to mention one, and that is…

1. Nursing Students Slow Down Workflow.  Don’t get me wrong; every nurse has been there. All nurses (LPN/LVN, RN, APRN) were nursing students at some point.

With all that said, nursing students make doing your job as a nurse harder. When a facility is doing their patient assignment, they generally don’t consider if the nurse is getting nursing students.

They’re going to get the same patient load that they’re going to get plus on top of it they’re going to be expected to teach as well.

From experience, it’s hard and can be frustrating. It’s NOT an excuse for nurses who treat nursing students poorly, but you can start seeing why a facility generally would not be so inclined to pay nursing students.

Now if the root source of your question is about making ends meet and paying for nursing school, make sure to read the next section.

Paying for Nursing School 

Below we’re going to give you some tips on what I think is one of the bigger issues in nursing school which is paying for it.

We covered this topic in-depth in another the article I wrote about paying for nursing school. Check it out for more information. 

1. Federal Student Loans: Not ideal but an option for many. Make sure you’re being wise about the amount of student loans you’re borrowing. We also wrote an excellent article on paying off your nursing school student loans for when that time comes. 

2. Private Loans: For when there’s not enough federal student loans to cover your tuition, fees, and cost of living. 

3. Saving-Up Before Starting School: A good way to reduce the number of student loans you have. 

4. Working During School: This is a tough option but like #3, it’s a good way to reduce or eliminate the number of student loans you’ll have after school. 

There’s more detail in the article “How to pay for Nursing School.” 

Final Thoughts

A picture of nurse with a thought bubble asking do nurses get paid for clinicals

It’s hard going through nursing school clinicals and not getting paid for attending clinicals. With everything financially, you have going on, it’s going to be challenging. 

Hang in there it will get better. 

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