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If I only knew then: All preceptorships are not created equal.

Letter from the Editor NP Students

If I only knew then: All preceptorships are not created equal.


If I only knew then that all preceptorships are not created equal.

As I reflect going into my sixth year as a practitioner, I realize that I am a product of a great school but most importantly, exceptional preceptors.

But how does one differentiate a good preceptor from one who is exceptional if there is no standard?

Unfortunately, most students discover that the quality of their preceptorship differs from their peers after they share their experiences. Only to discover that one preceptor may not have permitted a student to perform hands-on skills until four weeks into the practicum experience or preceptorship. Whereas, another preceptor may have started Day 1 with “let me see what you can do.” I am confident that you are familiar with this variety, and like me, your greatest concern is the health care outcomes that will be delivered by our next-generation nurse practitioners (NEXGENNPs).

Of course, I wasn’t surprised when I conducted a pilot survey amongst my fellow Atlanta NPS to assess their preceptor search experience. I also learned that the second greatest concern among NP students after landing a preceptor was the quality of the preceptorship. 60 percent of the students who started their preceptorship stated it was a “hit or miss.”

This is when I recognized the possibility that I am who I am today because of the quality of my preceptorship established by my preceptors. This academic year, I challenge preceptors and our NEXGENNPs to develop a working plan.

Here are five things to consider when beginning your preceptorship:

  1. Establish rapport with your preceptor. This should be done before seeing patients and hopefully during the recruitment process. You two have had a chance to get to know each other and discuss preferred style of communication which includes phone call, text, or email. This foundation sounds simple but if it is not established poor communication can lead to conflict.  Keep in mind, that the workforce encompasses different generations and it is important you two work together to agree on what works best for the both of you.
  2. Build a rapport with the office staff and the care team since you will be interacting with them for administrative assistance or to take orders (under your preceptor). Sets the tone as you the professional and leader. Introduce yourself if you preceptor has not already. Or to answer housekeeping questions, need them to carry out orders under your preceptor. 
  3. Actively listen. Constructive feedback can help you grow as a practitioner.  Remember You are not there to audit the practice you are there to learn. If you have any concerns regarding safety let your faculty know. 
  4. Mind your Manners. This includes body language. Be polite use words like please and thank you. Try not to stand with arms folded because it can come across like a road block. Being civil towards each other creates a more inviting and stimulating learning environment.  
  5. Express gratitude. At the end of each day thank your preceptor. Invest time and share his or her expertise After all you could not have finished your hours without their time and expertise.

Again, how does one differentiate a good preceptor from an exceptional one? By the quality of the preceptorship. What’s your preceptorship story? We would love to hear from you. Email comments to editor@npstudentmagazine.com

Patrice Little, DNP, FNP-BC

I am an author, Family Nurse Practitioner, and Founder/CEO of NP Student, — dedicated to keeping you "in the know" in every aspect of your life in and out of school. I am candid about my wins and regrets and share these stories so you can learn from my, always revealing something new life. Contact me at editor@npstudentmagazine.com

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