With the growing nursing shortage, more clinical preceptors are needed to prepare aspiring nurses. Clinical preceptors are essential to facilitating nursing education and building the nursing workforce to fulfill the increased demand for quality health care.
Treating patients as a clinician while filling the role of educator can be a juggling act, but it’s also a tremendously rewarding experience. Read on to find out how precepting can benefit you.
What Is a Preceptor?
Preceptors are experienced licensed clinicians who act as teachers and coaches who supervise nursing students during their clinical rotations. Their role is to help students translate theoretical learning to real-world clinical practice.
Preceptors are needed for all levels of nursing education. Programs offering bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, post-master's certificates, and doctoral degrees all rely on preceptors to provide mentorship to students.
Who Can Be a Preceptor?
Preceptor roles for advanced practice nursing programs are open to advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). 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 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.
Preceptor Responsibilities Include:
- Bridging the gap between theory and actual practice
- Orienting students to practice setting, organizational and institutional policies and key personnel
- Assisting students in planning clinical assignments based on course objectives and student-articulated learning needs
- Providing supervision of students on a one-to-one clinical basis until such time as student and preceptor deem direct supervision is no longer necessary
- Providing weekly feedback to students
- Reviewing and co-signing all student documentation in clinical records
- Submitting a Student Evaluation Form of the practice experience to Clinical Faculty Advisor, as requested
- Serving as a role model to nursing students
- Maintaining an open line of communication with the student's advisor
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.
Grow the Nursing Profession
Preceptors play a vital role in solving the nationwide nursing shortage. One reason why the U.S. lacks nurses is that nursing schools cannot enroll enough students. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, they are turning away qualified candidates because they don’t have the preceptors needed to accommodate clinical placements.
Preceptors enable nursing schools to expand student enrollment and play a direct role in growing the nursing profession.
Precepting is a chance to pay forward the dedication of your past preceptors. Preceptors shape nursing students’ careers by teaching a new generation of nurses through unique knowledge and experiences.
Develop Leadership Skills
Preceptorship is a powerful way to develop leadership:
- 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.
Renew Your Passion
Working as a clinician is gratifying and sometimes emotionally challenging. Preceptorship is one way to reconnect a passion for health care. 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.
Enhance Your Resume
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.
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 American Nurses Credentialing Center.
Many states also accept clinical preceptor hours for APRN licensure renewal.
Strengthen Your Practice
Knowledge-sharing during a clinical placement is often mutually beneficial for the student as well as the 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.
Receive More Support
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.
Participate on Your Terms
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. That means you can precept as your personal and professional responsibilities allow.
Preceptors Needed at Baylor University
Are you passionate about nursing and educating future nurses? Become a preceptor for the accredited online nursing programs at Baylor University.
Baylor University is proud to be a highly respected leader in advanced nursing education. Within a Christian community, we prepare nurses for professional practice, healthcare leadership and worldwide service. Our experienced faculty and staff are committed to teaching and scholarship. Our engaged students are motivated to develop as visionary nurses and exemplary nursing leaders.
We believe students are only as successful as their training. That’s why we help them prepare for every aspect of their clinical placement rotations, including securing quality sites within their local communities.
Baylor University is currently seeking preceptors nationwide for the following online programs:
- Distance Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN)
- Online Doctor of Nursing Practice - Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (DNP-AGACNP)
- Online Doctor of Nursing Practice - Family Nurse Practitioner (DNP-FNP)
- Online Doctor of Nursing Practice - Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (DNP-NNP)
- Online Doctor of Nursing Practice - Nurse-Midwifery (DNP-NM)
- Online Doctor of Nursing Practice - Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (DNP-PNP)
We invite you to join our dedicated team of faculty in shaping the next generation of nurses.