Clinicals vs Preceptorship?

Nursing Students General Students


This may be a dumb question, but what's the difference between Clinicals and Preceptorship? Isn't both you learn from the nurses at the hospitals, etc?

For our school, clinical rotations were done in small groups of classmates and an assigned school nursing instructor. We would have 4-7 students per clinical group and, for example, each might have 1-2 patients to care for. The school nursing instructor was responsible for us and stayed with us for all procedures, medications, etc. for guidance and proper administration. That meant there was a limit as to what we were able to do because one instructor could only be in one room physically at a time. We would have pre- and post-conference to discuss patients and go over educational information and care plans would be due after. We generally had a couple of teaching projects to do as well, but they had to be pre-approved by our instructor.

For my preceptorship, it was totally different. This was in my last semester of nursing school and was designed to help ease the transition from SN to RN out in the real world. I was assigned a school nursing instructor, but only as a liaison and evaluator at the midterm and end of my preceptorship. The rest of the time I didn't see my instructor at all and worked with a staff RN that was a hospital employee directly instead. There was much less hand-holding for my preceptorship and by the end of it I was expected to be caring for 5 or so patients per shift. My preceptor would still be present for med administration and things like that, but once I was checked off on skills under her supervision then I was expected perform and to carry what I learned forward. I also did all of my own charting/documentation, did a teaching project of my choosing, and learned all of the medications and care needed.. not because I was being tested on them like in previous semesters, but so that I could be a safe and competent health care provider. Looking back, I feel like I just learned so much so fast during my preceptorship, while my clinical rotations were more of a slow progress kind of thing.

I should also note that of the students from my class, a good portion of them (including me) were offered jobs at the facility they did their preceptorship. Even though we didn't realize it at the time, it is obvious now that we were being evaluated as potential future employees while still in school. Best of luck! :)

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development.

While the specifics vary a bit from place to place ... JustADream's post above is true for most of the country.

JustADream - Thanks!! I found out one of the schools I'm wanting to get into doesn't have a preceptorship. It sounds like a very important step to transition easier.

Anyone know why some schools do and some schools don't? It seems like all should. I live in California for reference.

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