I have been nursing for many years. Like most nurses, I was given the Healthy People 2020 report, which talked about the benefits of bringing ARNPs into the forefront of healthcare as a way to reduce costs and meet the demand of the public.
Like many nurses, I also wanted to expand my career opportunities and applied for an advanced degree. Because of where I live, I ended up going with an online program located out of state. (To attend a “brick and mortar” university for my FNP degree would have meant a 2 hour drive each way, which would have become a barrier over time.)
Over the quarters, I have been a good student. I studied hard, got good grades and did all the needed assignments. People at my work and in my community seemed excited at the idea of me assuming this new role.
Then it came time to locate and secure a clinical site and preceptor.
All the support and positive feedback magically went away.
I started approaching locations of all kinds looking for preceptor hours that would meet the criteria. Clinics where my calls had previously been welcomed suddenly would not return my calls. Doctors and FNPs at my work found every reason why they couldn’t be preceptors. Or I was shuffled though HR phone trees until finally reaching an HR manager who stated their group or organization would not consider precepting students from non-contracted schools
I would have taken this personally, but when I spoke with one HR manager at a charity clinic about the need for preceptor sites for students, she stated that she has also been approached by universities in my area who, too, are struggling to locate willing clinical sites and preceptors. And other students also talked about the difficulties they had. So apparently, even high end schools are struggling with this need and being told “no.”
Why? Students come with liability insurance and healthcare experience. We usually come with good credentials and references, or else we wouldn’t have been accepted to school. We usually have a strong desire to excel and contribute to lightening the workload of the day. So why this resistance to helping students meet the critical need of preceptor hours?
I remember the old expression of nurses eating their young, and I think we have come a long way from those days.
But now we need to raise the bar. We need to also think about feeding and nurturing future ARNPs by providing willing, open doors to clinical sites if we are to truly meet the aspiring goals sited by Healthy People 2020. There is a need, and that need is now.
What needs to take place to get more healthcare sites and clinics willing to take on students?