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With the growing nursing shortage, more clinical preceptors are needed to prepare aspiring nurses. Clinical preceptors are essential to nursing education, which relies on the expertise of experienced clinicians like you.
Treating patients as a clinician while filling the role of educator can be a juggling act, but it’s also a tremendously rewarding experience.
What Is a Preceptor?
A preceptor is an experienced licensed clinician who supervises nursing students during their clinical rotations. His or her role is to help students translate theoretical learning from the classroom to clinical practice on patients in actual health care environments.
Preceptors are needed for all levels of nursing education. Programs offering bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees and post-master's certificates all rely on preceptors to provide mentorship to students.
What Does a Preceptor Do?
Preceptors bridge the gap between theoretical learning and clinical practice. They guide students in meeting clinical objectives and delivering safe and quality patient care.
Preceptors educate nursing students through observation and direct instruction. Students are given immediate feedback as well as more formal assessments in the form of written evaluations.
- Bridges the gap between theory and actual practice
- Orients students to practice setting, organizational and institutional policies and key personnel
- Assists students in planning clinical assignments based on course objectives and student-articulated learning needs
- Provides supervision of student on a one-to-one clinical basis until such time as student and preceptor deem direct supervision is no longer necessary
- Provides weekly feedback to students
- Reviews and co-signs all student documentation in clinical records
- Submits a Student Evaluation Form of the practice experience to Clinical Faculty Advisor, as requested
- Serves as a role model to nursing students
- Maintains an open line of communication with the student's advisor
Who Can Be a Preceptor?
Preceptor roles for most nursing programs are open to advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) and physicians. The requirements to become a preceptor vary by program.
Generally, preceptors must have an unencumbered license to practice in the state where the preceptorship will take place. They must also practice in a specialty directly related to the associated clinical rotation.
Aside from having the appropriate credentials and clinical competency, other traits are also necessary. Evidence shows that some of the most important qualities of nursing preceptors are:
- Enthusiasm for teaching
- Ability to offer positive and negative feedback in a constructive way
- Passion for nursing
- Ability to promote autonomy
Preceptors are needed all over the country to educate students enrolled in online nursing programs. Distance nursing students study the didactic portion of their coursework online, then complete their clinical rotation hours in their local community.
Wherever you practice, there are likely nursing students who will benefit from your preceptorship.
What Are the Benefits of Being a Preceptor?
Preceptorship benefits all participants: the students, patients and preceptors. Becoming a preceptor will also grow your influence in health care delivery and the nursing profession.
1. Give Back and Grow the Profession
Precepting is a chance to pay forward the dedication of your past preceptors and help shape nursing students’ careers by teaching a new generation of nurses.
Even more importantly, preceptors enable nursing schools to expand student enrollment and play a direct role in growing the nursing profession in the U.S.
According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, nursing schools cannot enroll enough students—they are turning away qualified candidates because they don’t have the preceptors needed to accommodate clinical placements.
2. Gain Support and Strengthen Your Knowledge
If you would benefit from a helping hand in your day-to-day practice, consider becoming a clinical preceptor. As you share your knowledge and expertise, the student will support you in carrying out your administrative and patient-care duties.
Knowledge-sharing during clinical placement is often mutually beneficial for the student and preceptor. Explaining your clinical reasoning to students will reinforce your knowledge. Plus, nursing students learn the most up-to-date clinical best practices through their coursework, so you may also learn something new.
3. Develop Your Leadership Skills and Boost Your Resume
Preceptorship is a powerful way to develop and grow your skills as a leader. As a preceptor, you will:
- Practice greater accountability for health care delivery and outcomes
- Improve your written and oral communication skills
- Organize, manage and delegate tasks
- Gain experience supervising individuals and teams
- Foster collaboration and teamwork
You’ll refine your leadership style and skills as you help nursing students navigate patient care.
Adding the preceptor role to your resume will strengthen your professional experience. Preceptorship demonstrates your willingness to lead, commitment to lifelong learning and dedication to improving health care.
Many colleges and universities see preceptors as an extension of the faculty. You may be able to gain adjunct professor status and add that role to your resume, too.
4. Fulfill Requirements for Credential Renewal
The certification and licensure renewal process for APRNs and physicians requires the completion of continuing education. You can obtain continuing education hours through preceptorship.
For example, APRNs can apply up to 120 clinical preceptor hours toward the continuing education requirement for national certification renewal. This is true for both certification boards: the American Association of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board and the Evidence shows that supporting others is an effective way to reduce stress.
A nursing student will bring a new sense of enthusiasm and motivation to the workplace, which can be inspiring. You may also feel reinvigorated by this unique opportunity for professional collaboration.
Precepting is a flexible role in which you can participate on a short- or long-term basis. Depending on the nursing program, students complete multiple clinical placements.
The time you spend precepting varies by rotation and program, which means you can precept as your personal and professional responsibilities allow.
Preceptors Needed at Carson-Newman University
Are you passionate about nursing and educating future nurses? Become a preceptor for the accredited online Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) programs at Carson-Newman University.
Carson-Newman provides exceptional nursing education in a supportive, Christian community. Our programs are grounded in authentic servant-leadership. We equip students to think critically and advance their clinical competence while effectively treating patients with the highest quality of care.
At Carson-Newman, the nursing students are bright and dedicated to developing as empowered, autonomous caregivers. They learn from experienced faculty who currently practice in the field of nursing and are passionate about education.
We believe students are only as successful as their training. That’s why we take the stress out of the clinical placement process. We help students prepare for every aspect of their clinical rotations, including identifying and securing quality sites within their local communities.
Carson-Newman is currently seeking preceptors nationwide for the following online programs:
- Online Master of Science in Nursing - Family Nurse Practitioner (MSN-FNP)
- Online Post-Master’s Certificate - Family Nurse Practitioner (PMC-FNP)
We invite you to join us in shaping the next generation of FNPs.
Become a Carson-Newman University preceptor or learn more about the role.