Oh, the dreaded nursing school clinical hours. Former nurse practitioner students have warned you of the time commitment and frustration they may present. What you may not know is that some nurse practitioner programs will not find physicians or other nurse practitioners to precept you in order to complete your clinical hours. In many nurse practitioner programs, you will be required to secure your own clinical placement and preceptor to train you.
Finding your own clinical preceptor can be a daunting task, especially if you plan to attend school away from your home. What are the best ways to locate a clinical preceptor willing to train you in your effort to become a nurse practitioner?
1. Work With Your University
Many nurse practitioner programs will assign you a clinical placement allowing you to complete your NP program with greater ease and less stress. I highly recommend finding a program that will place you with a preceptor. If this isn’t an option, don’t despair. You will be able to secure a clinical placement it may just take a bit of work. Your first step should be to contact your program director at the school you plan to or are attending. They likely have a list of area medical providers willing and ready to host students.
2. Contact Friends and Family
As the nurse practitioner profession becomes more prominent, it is likely your friends or family members know a few NP’s. Physicians or physician assistants will do as well. Contact medical providers with whom you have connections and ask them if they would be willing to precept you in your nurse practitioner program. Make sure you have details from your professors regarding the number of hours and days each week you will need to be with them in their clinic. Providers will be more willing to precept you if they have a clear picture of the commitment they are making.
3. Ask Current and Former Students
Your nurse practitioner program will likely require that you complete your clinical hours under the supervision of more than one preceptor. This is good in that training with multiple providers exposes you to different styles and methods of medical practice. It does create more work for you in that you need to find multiple preceptors. Current and former nurse practitioner students will be happy to connect you with their favorite past preceptors. Getting recommendations for preceptors from NP students will help insure you will have a pleasant clinical experience.
4. Ask Your Personal Medical Providers
No luck finding a preceptor yet? Time to get more innovative. If you have and like your own family physician or NP, consider stopping by his or her office to see if this individual would be willing to become your clinical preceptor. Even if they are personally hesitant to make the commitment, they may have connections with other providers who enjoy hosting nurse practitioner students. Visiting the clinics of prospective preceptors is better than calling. If prospective preceptors see you are well put together and present yourself professionally it will lend you more credibility than a quick chat on the phone. You will be less forgettable in person.
5. Search Preceptor Networking Websites
Although rare, online networks connecting nurse practitioner students with clinical preceptors do exist. Most that I found had few or no postings but one website, ENPNetwork.com, contains multiple postings from physicians and NPs looking to train nurse practitioner students. You might just get lucky and find a posting in your area.
Nurse practitioners, how did you find your clinical preceptors in your nurse practitioner program? Do you have any tips for current and prospective students?