Amanda it is no bother at all to answer your questions but as I seldom post (more of a reader) I can't reply to you any other way but here.
On clinicals....they don't start until your 2nd 8 weeks of the first semester. You go one day a week. Ours were on Saturday. I was placed at Ephraim McDowell in Danville. The other clinical site was in Corbin, KY. The first 8 weeks you learn the basic tech stuff plus some of the nursey stuff in a clinical lab located on the third floor of the nursing building. You learn stuff like: turning, making beds, trach suction, starting IVs, starting foleys, wound care, med administration, etc. Your first clinical rotation will be very mild though and you'll mostly do tech like duties. I always requested that if a nurse on the floor had something cool, like a dressing change, or needed an IV started, or whatever, that I'd be interested in doing it if they were okay with that. And some of the nurses will come let you do stuff like that. The more you do the better. And no, I didn't have doodley squat for experience when I started. I was a microbiologist in an equine hospital in my prior life.
The next semester you'll have two clinical rotations- one med surg and one psych. I think everybody was at St. Joe for the Med Surg, and either Eastern State or The Ridge (there maybe was some at Corbin). I was at Eastern State. This was the most disappointing of the rotations as we did very little and had very little patient interaction, but I think it's difficult to arrange. If you're at Eastern State you'll see what I mean. Over summer you'll do Labor and Delivery and Peds. This is a very short rotation, comprised of only the first 6 weeks. We were all at Central Baptist for L&D, and either UK or Shriners for Peds. I was at UK. You want UK. You see more stuff and get to do more; they are used to teaching there and answering a ton of questions. The second 6 weeks of summer is public health. You drive around and see the countryside. You do a seatbelt survey. You maybe put on a healthfair. You have to wear super stupid scrub pants. The last semester you have your critical care clinical for the first 8 weeks- two days a week. We were either at UK or St Joe. I was originally placed at St Joe but as the UK clinical was Tues and Sats, I easily switched (and boy, was I glad I did). The last 8 weeks is your synthesis. You work whatever schedule your preceptor works until you acheive so many clinical hours. Your placement (meaning unit) apparently depends on how well you do on the first HESI. I did really well and chose my placement in the NICU at UK. Some others were at St Joe. If you don't do well on the HESI, they put you in Med Surg to improve your skills (or that's what they tell us anyhow).
To be honest, coming into the programs and even exiting, I didn't have a clue where I wanted to work. I did love working in the NICU but couldn't get on there. I ended up hired into the Neuro ICU @ UK. So far, I like it. I did most of my beginning orientation in the Medical ICU (because my new unit wasn't open yet and the old unit was saturated with new nurses) and it turns out, I really like it there too. I do like the ICU environment (lots of detail), and many of my professors told me that I would excel there. They also told me I'd be a good candidate for ER but I'm not feeling that just yet. ER kind of scares the crap out of me. I'm still so new though, it would be difficult for me to say that I've given any unit a fair shake just yet.
I think that was all you asked me but you're welcome to ask more if you think of any. You can email me too if you like at firstname.lastname@example.org