Education Suite

Improving Clinical Communication and Education

Onboarding students and managing their schedules has grown increasingly complicated. Communicating with numerous stakeholders, gathering schedule details, collecting hundreds of documents, and then trying to manage the torrent of questions and concerns that naturally arise creates an environment mired in logistics rather than focusing on real clinical education. On top of that, most of this process is coordinated via email – an ineffective tool for clinical communication and education management.

Managing communication between students, faculty, preceptors, school coordinators, hospital staff, and others is a monumental task. And simple communication pathways are the key to success. In the day-to-day work of healthcare, communication requires greater attention – especially when it has the potential to impact patient care. In fact, previous research from the Joint Commission indicates that “…communication failures were implicated at the root of over 70 percent of sentinel events.”1

Establishing Strong Clinical Communication

So how do we establish effective clinical communication practices for nursing and graduate medical education?

The Joint Commission recommends the following:

  1. Synthesize information into a central location rather than maintaining disparate sources and channels of communication.2
  2. Use technology to enhance communication and handoffs.2

Although major hospitals moved to electronic health systems more than 20 years ago, clinical communication and education efforts are often still managed manually via spreadsheets, physical paper copies and a number of other outdated tools and processes. This mixture often leads to a key stakeholder getting left out of the communication loop. That might be a school coordinator, a unit manager, a faculty member, or the student – all of which can lead to disorganized efforts, privacy violations, and ultimately diminished patient care.

In addition to these challenges, a complicated and manual process only adds to the struggle in securing and scheduling clinical education for students. Schools find it challenging to schedule nursing and medical student rotations with enough time for everyone to complete paperwork and undergo onboarding and orientation. This often results in students showing up to a rotation without the initial confidence that comes from reliable communication and the setting of clear expectations.

5 Recommendations for Simplifying Clinical Education

One way to address this challenge is to review – from a student’s point of view – the scheduling and onboarding process for your organization.

Here are a few practical recommendations from an experienced Clinical Education Manager:

1. Conduct a full review of the documents required for starting a clinical rotation at your facility.

  • What immunization records are required?
  • What documents are needed to receive EHR access?
  • When does a student receive information about orientation?
  • What steps are necessary to receive an ID badge, and how is that returned at the end of a rotation?
  • Print a paper copy of every document a student must fill out.

2. Create a flow chart of every person/role involved in the onboarding and scheduling process.

3. What expectations are set for students? When and how are these communicated?

4. How is a student notified if there is an emergent event at the hospital during a clinical rotation?

5. Identify the vulnerabilities in your process for privacy and error.

  • How do the documents travel? (email, in-person, fax, etc.)
  • Where do they stay?
  • Who has access to them? Does each person require access to such sensitive data?
  • Plan for turnover by evaluating how your education processes will be passed on to the next clinical education manager.

We’re Here to Help With Clinical Communication and Education

Clinician Nexus would love to help you simplify your clinical education efforts. If you would like to learn more about our innovative Clinical Placement Management or Student Management software platforms, please contact us to schedule a demo so that you can focus on educating the clinical workforce of tomorrow – and not the mundane details.


Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations.(2005). National Patient Safety Goals. Accessed at:

2 Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. (2017). Sentinel Event Alert: Issue 58. Accessed at

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