To be properly prepared for whatever career that you plan on pursuing after earning your degree, it pays to know exactly where the fine lines lie between an internship and practicum. Practicums and internships differ not only in the settings that they're carried out in, but also in the nature of exactly how much they will demand from you as an burgeoning professional in your desired field.
Hands-On Internship Tasks
Because one of the biggest challenges that graduates with any degree face is the paradoxical issue of needing preexisting experience to gain entry-level experience, zeroing on an relevant internship or practicum can be crucial for avoiding a world of frustration later on.
The nature of your desired career path may necessitate a certain level of experience with carrying out self-directed work in a professional setting in order to be considered a worthy applicant. Generally speaking, internships tend to entail a greater focus on hands-on work in professional settings than practicum courses.
In an internship, your primary challenge will be to independently apply what you've studied to carry out live tasks in the workplace. Though you'll periodically be under supervision, the core objective will be to measure just how self-driven and productive you can be when left to your own devices in the field.
Supplementary Practicum Tasks
Practicums, though being a recognized form of preliminary work training, are designed more in the mold of a graduate course than a live job simulation. While internships are predominantly focused on assessing your proficiency with independent hands-on tasks, practicums are primarily geared more toward helping out with supplementary tasks in the background.
While a nursing internship might require you to get directly involved in key stages of a patient's preoperative evaluation needs, a nursing practicum would instead have you primarily occupied with tasks such as charting information from patients' newly collected laboratory diagnostics.
Observation And Correlation
Through practicums may not be as heavily focused on giving you opportunities to carry out tasks independently, a big part of completing them will depend on your powers of observation. When you aren't carrying out supplementary task such as recording data, you will likely be expected to relate what you see in the field and what you've studied.
Because of how much emphasis a practicum puts on observation and correlative analysis, it pays to make a habit of constantly taking notes. A series of graded assignments will usually be given throughout the practicum to test your comprehension, so keeping your notes thorough and consistently updated will be paramount.
In both an internship and practicum, it will be necessary to report to at least one designated supervisor. If you're an intern completing self-directed tasks, you will generally be given more leeway in terms of how often their supervisor looks over their shoulder; however, you will still be asked to provide periodic progress reports. Next to the comparatively more autonomous internship, a practicum will mostly entail closely shadowing the supervisor and assisting them with supplementary tasks to streamline workflow.
Overall Time Investment
In most circumstances, an internship will be will be a full-time commitment. To fully immerse you in the nature of your future workplace, your internship schedule will usually mirror the standard schedule for the organization's employees.
Practicums and Internships: Both Beneficial Educational Experiences
Compared to the usual full-time commitment of an internship, practicums usually entail a substantially less loaded schedule. With the exception of certain supervised tasks that may situationally demand more time than others, practicums generally occupy no more time than what would be expected to complete the average graduate-level course.