It seems that we as physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants get a little bit selfish as we progress in our careers. No judgement-I’m guilty too. As new graduates we know the feeling of being inexperienced and recall the tense moments on the hospital floor in our schooling all too well. But, then, once we get enough experience under our belts to pass along our knowledge, other priorities have crept in.
There are over 200 NP programs in the United States graduating thousands of nurse practitioner students each year. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough healthcare providers willing to teach these aspiring NPs. Many students experience delays in graduation for lack of someone willing to facilitate their clinical requirements.
As a nurse practitioner, I understand why. If you are paid on productivity, teaching a student takes time and could cut into your bottom line. The slower you work and the fewer patients you see, the less you are paid. Teaching a student also requires energy. It disrupts your work routine requiring greater focus and flexibility in your work day.
Despite the downsides of precepting a nurse practitioner student, there are some noteworthy advantages. Here are a few reasons you should consider helping train a nurse practitioner student.
1. Turning the Tables: Precepting Facilitates Continued Learning
Nothing keeps you on your toes quite like teaching. As a preceptor, your NP student will have questions about how you practice and the scientific basis for your actions. Responding to these questions helps you personally keep up to date with the latest practice guidelines yourself. When a student asks about the way you do something and you aren’t quite certain of the answer, you can even put them to the task of looking it up for you. By training a future nurse practitioner, you may even end up learning something yourself.
2. Cash Money: Make Your Practice More Efficient
While precepting an NP student does require time, you may be able to use the extra hands to help your practice run more efficiently and even increase patient satisfaction. Patients often complain that physicians, NPs, and PAs are hurried and don’t spend enough time evaluating them and answering their questions. A nurse practitioner student can fill this need. By letting an NP student take an initial history of your patient’s illness and perform an initial exam, you save time. This lets you, the provider, drill down to the issue at hand when you enter the room. You can complete the patient interaction more efficiently while the patient has still had plenty of face-time with a provider.
3. Risk Free Hire: Add Only Qualified Providers to Your Practice
If you think you might want to expand your practice by adding a nurse practitioner in the near future, precepting an NP student is almost a must. It can serve as a prolonged job interview. First, you can make sure the nurse practitioner is a good fit for your practice. Second, you can evaluate the NP before they are on your payroll making sure they work hard and have the potential to learn keeping up in your clinic or hospital. Finally, you can even start training your nurse practitioner preceptee while they are in school. An NP working with you will be able to master your workplace policies and procedures as well as things like how your EMR system works before their first day on the job.
4. Take Your Pick: It’s OK Be Selective
Many medical providers hesistate to host a nurse practitioner student because they aren’t quite sure what they’re going to get. Will you be matched with a novice nurse without any prior experience? Or, will you be placed with an NP student who has years of specialized training under their belt? Fortunately, you can be choosy when it comes to the type of NP student you want to train. You may request to precept only students with a certain amount of prior nursing experience or experience in a certain specialty. This way you make sure you are paired with a nurse practitioner who is the best fit for your practice.
5. Share Responsibility: You Don’t Have to Go It Alone
If being responsible for training a nurse practitioner student sounds daunting, share the responsibility with other providers in your practice. This is a bonus for the NP student as well, It gives he/she gets the opportunity to learn from multiple providers who can offer unique perspectives. Not to mention, this approach allows your practice the benefits of hosting a student without having the responsibility fall on a single provider.
Precepting a nurse practitioner student can add value to your practice. Although it is certainly an added, not to mention unpaid, responsibility, there are benefits to your business as well to you professionally.
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