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Finding your own clinical instructors?

Has 23 years experience. Specializes in Neonatal ICU, Pediatrics, some ER.

I am almost completed with my MSN in nursing education through Walden University. They are starting up an FNP (also adult/gerontology) program in the fall.

I'm extremely interested, but not sure if it's the norm to have to locate your own preceptors???

What is everyone's experience from what they have found or done?

llg, PhD, RN

Has 43 years experience. Specializes in Nursing Professional Development.

It is the norm -- and it is a disgrace. An increasing number of schools are requiring students to find their own preceptors -- to provide their education for no recognition or renumeration. Meanwhile, the school collects your money. Schools should be ashamed of themselves and the profession should not allow it.

But regretably, the practice has become the norm.

Pug RN

Has 23 years experience. Specializes in Neonatal ICU, Pediatrics, some ER.

That is really sad. The programs are all so expensive, and it seems like this takes so minimal of an effort from the schools and puts it upon the shoulders of someone who is already attending a strenuous program and attempting to balance "real life" as well.

Although this is not what I wanted to hear, it makes me think that this program should be fine, and I will just have to jump that hurdle when I get to it. I'll need to do a little more research and wait for some more responses.

That is really sad. The programs are all so expensive, and it seems like this takes so minimal of an effort from the schools and puts it upon the shoulders of someone who is already attending a strenuous program and attempting to balance "real life" as well.

Although this is not what I wanted to hear, it makes me think that this program should be fine, and I will just have to jump that hurdle when I get to it. I'll need to do a little more research and wait for some more responses.

I would encourage you to not wait to "jump that hurdle when (you) get to it." There have been posters here in the past who were unable to complete their degrees (or were significantly delayed in graduating) because they had completed all their coursework but couldn't find preceptors for the clinicals. On the other threads discussing this topic (there are plenty; have you reviewed them?), people who have been through this process always urge potential students to get their preceptors more or less lined up before they even start their programs.

It can be a real challenge to find preceptors, since precepting students slows the practitioner down significantly and they are typically being asked to do this for no compensation.

Pug RN

Has 23 years experience. Specializes in Neonatal ICU, Pediatrics, some ER.

I can understand that, I am actually having a difficult time locating a preceptor for my msn in nursing education, which is a significantly shorter practicum.

I will have to go and look at some of the other posts. I am actually new to the NP boards, so thanks for directing me.

If I were you I would only consider programs that provide preceptors. Many, many students on here were just like you, and assumed they'd deal with the problem when it came. Then, when time came to find a preceptor, they were screwed. If you don't already have someone in mind who has agreed to precept you, I'd caution against assuming that you'll find someone.

Also, what concerns me the most about these programs, is where is the quality control? I don't understand how institutions can be fine with having random people teach their students without investigating the facility first, the individuals,etc.

Tinabeanrn

Has 9 years experience. Specializes in family nurse practitioner.

Very normal unfortunately :/.

Also, what concerns me the most about these programs, is where is the quality control? I don't understand how institutions can be fine with having random people teach their students without investigating the facility first, the individuals,etc.

This is my concern, as well. What kind of idea (or control) do the schools have of what caliber clinical education the individual student is getting? In my graduate program (a CNS program, not an NP program, but the NP tracks operated the same way), every clinical instructor was a full- or part-time faculty member at the school -- they had been vetted during the hiring process, they were integrated into the school faculty, and their performance was monitored on an ongoing basis. How does a school know that the local preceptor a student lined up isn't some kind of slacker who takes lots of shortcuts (or is just an all-round poor quality clinician) and is teaching the student all kinds of bad habits and poor practices?

Clearly, these schools just don't care about that possibility, or what kind of education students are getting in their program. I find that completely unacceptable, and would never attend a program like that.

A big part of the problem, IMO, is that too many students want the convenience of attending an online program and arranging local clinicals, and they don't seem to care that much about the caliber and rigor of the education they're receiving (and paying for). If people stopped applying for the programs in which you arrange your own preceptors locally, schools would have to make other arrangements.

Tinabeanrn

Has 9 years experience. Specializes in family nurse practitioner.

Just my 2 cents, its not only online schools. I attended school on campus and they had a little bit of both. They preferred for the students to find their own preceptors, but they would arrange clinicals for you if push came to shove. As far as the quality control goes, at my school they had mid term evaluations and end of semester evaluations of all of our preceptors and clinical sites which asked if the student would recommend the preceptor or the site. We were also told to contact our clinical faculty if we were having any isssues. A couple of students did that and were placed elsewhere. The instructors also did site visits and saw us at each clinical site and shadowed us during visits to make sure we were up to par.

I think they allow the students to pick their preceptors because they assume the students will find suitable preceptors. Ya know? In my general area I can name 5 on campus programs of well know universities, and only One arranges clinicals for you. I'm not saying its right, I'm just saying.

And it is concerning. It seemed like some of the students in my class had better experiences than others based of their clinicals. That doesn't seem fair. Sorry if there are any typos...Im so sleepy :).

And this is why it is so important for NP students to actually care about the reputation and quality of their program - not just whether or not the program is "flexible" or online. Students need to stop attending programs that do not provide preceptors, period. How can it be acceptable for some students to have good clinicals and other students to have crappy ones?

It seems crazy to me that schools will just "trust" their students to find adequate training. Isn't that the school's responsibility? The state of NP education is just appalling. I think as more and more schools churn out NPs, things are going to tighten up and jobs will be harder to find. You're best going with a program from a reputable university (not for-profit!), which should set up your clinicals.

Tinabeanrn

Has 9 years experience. Specializes in family nurse practitioner.

I think the bigger issue is that people dont want to precept students. It is not easy to find ppl that are willing to do it for some reason. My school had a long list of preceptors and still would not have enough and made us find some of our own. I wish that NPs were more willing to take on students and be mentors.

Pug RN

Has 23 years experience. Specializes in Neonatal ICU, Pediatrics, some ER.

I wish it was that easy that students could stop attending the programs that don't provide preceptors. I really do, because I would be all over that.

But when such a vast amount of the schools out there are going this route, and people like myself are wanting to have school wrapped up before their child goes off to school themself, this becomes quite the challenge.

I attend a reputable school currently, as do friends of mine that are in different FNP programs, many at state non-profit universities, and they still need to get their own preceptors.

So, I agree that it is difficult and not right to have to locate your own preceptors, but unfortunately, it may be the only choice for some men and women that could make excellent NP's and also figure out a way to work their programs into their work schedules.

I have struggled the past year to attend school full time for my MSN in nursing education, work full time, and raise my just turned one child. I have a 3.95 overall GPA. However, I was dependent on a school that was super flexible and online to be able to accomplish this task. I have done well enough to be invited into Sigma Theta Tau. I am looking at needing to do the same kind of program, where at least the classroom portion is online, in order to accomplish this last step in my dream.

Tinabeanrn

Has 9 years experience. Specializes in family nurse practitioner.

Good points Pug RN. Go for it! All you can give is your best. Start finding preceptors now. Make sure they are well rounded and will be able to give you the experiences you need. Try family practice or internal medicine offices. You will do fine :). I have faith

This is more of a musing about the field in general and not really aimed at the OP. I wish you the best of luck, pug RN!

I know that it can hard when one is a single parent, has other responsibilities, etc... but is that really an excuse for a shoddy education and training? I know a lot of single parents who put themselves through medical school, pharmacy school, got a PhD, etc. I mean, shouldn't the education require sacrifice? I just worry that when we make NP education very easy to obtain (which, let's admit, it often is), we cheapen the field. There are many rigorous, excellent NP programs out there, but with so many NPs graduating from for-profit degree mills, online universities with little-to-no quality control... it's just spooky. And it will hurt the field, result in lower salaries, etc.

This is what is currently happening to clinical psychology. It used to be a very rigorous field and it was extremely competitive to get accepted to a funded PhD program (we're talking 5% acceptance rates!) However, the degree mills have taken hold of the field and now anyone with a pulse can get a PsyD (or even sometimes a PhD) at one of these institutions. This has caused huge, huge problems for the field, including a ridiculous influx of psychologists. Now their market is terrible, their wages have fallen, many can't even finish training due to lack of internship spots and too many applicants, etc.

I just think that when you look at field that maintains high quality control and limits spots, the exclusivity works in its favor - higher wages, excellent job market, etc.. Opening the floodgates (well, I guess they're already open, tbh) and letting anyone who wants to be a NP become one, well, it strikes me as a recipe for disaster.

I'm just glad I'm going into a less popular specialty. The market for FNPs in my area is horrendous, it's so saturated.

Tinabeanrn

Has 9 years experience. Specializes in family nurse practitioner.

Can I just say that just because a person has to find their own preceptor, that does not automatically make your education "shoddy." My preceptors, had to find their own preceptors when they went to school and I had some really good preceptors in my opinion. Very seasoned NPs with years and years of experience.

I didn't mean to imply that all programs are automatically shoddy if a student must find their own preceptor - not at all! I just meant that the real possibility is there, and it just seems crazy to me. I just don't get why it's acceptable. I mean, if I were to see a surgeon and was told that he had to go find his own clinical experiences with no input from his medical school... well, yeah, I wouldn't want to be that surgeon's patient, kwim?

Tinabeanrn

Has 9 years experience. Specializes in family nurse practitioner.

I wasn't trying to be mean or anything but it is what you said. And I if you wouldn't want to go see a surgeon that had to find their own clinicals I understand that. To each his own. But being an N P is different than medicine, obviously. And its a much smaller community of providers..at my school you couldn't just pick a random name out of a hat. You had to find decent sites. 9 times out of 10 they knew the N P. They evaluate the site and Preceptors experience before you can start clinical. Then they ask you to let them know if the experience is not going well, which you would have to do either way. It's not like your being thrown to the wolves. And yes it is unfortunate at times, but the majority of the time it works out just fine.

llg, PhD, RN

Has 43 years experience. Specializes in Nursing Professional Development.

..at my school you couldn't just pick a random name out of a hat. You had to find decent sites. 9 times out of 10 they knew the N P. They evaluate the site and Preceptors experience before you can start clinical. Then they ask you to let them know if the experience is not going well, which you would have to do either way. It's not like your being thrown to the wolves. And yes it is unfortunate at times, but the majority of the time it works out just fine.

That's YOUR school -- and it sounds as if your school works hard to monitor the quality of the education provided by the preceptor. But that's only one school. Many schools are not like that. In many cases, the students are just out there on their own, with virtually no follow-up or involvement from the school.

For online programs where the students live all over the country, the school does NOT know the preceptors at all and many schools do very little to follow-up or verify the student's activities. These large online programs are growing, and those of us who see the deterioration in the quality of education provided by some of these schools are concerned about it for a good reason.

I am happy to read that you go to a small, local program in which there is a small community of teachers and practitioners who know each other and who work together to maintain a quality program. I only wish everyone were going to such programs -- instead of being pushed through the system by programs who take their money and provide little in exchange for it.

My preceptors, had to find their own preceptors when they went to school and I had some really good preceptors in my opinion. Very seasoned NPs with years and years of experience.

But we all know nurses who are "seasoned" and have many years of experience who just aren't good nurses and whom we would not want teaching students ... Part of my concern is that NP students aren't necessarily in a good position, simply by virtue of being students, to determine whether or not someone is a good preceptor and whether they're getting a good clinical experience. We all complain here all the time about the patient satisfaction surveys, and how the problem with that system is that patients aren't typically in a good position to evaluate the quality of the nursing care they received and instead are concerned with things like how smiley and cheerful someone was -- to me, this situation isn't exactly the same, but it's in the same ballpark. Students, as the old saying goes, "don't know what they don't know." I'm certainly not talking about you, personally, and I'm glad your school has as much involvement in the process as you describe, but some of the people who post here about finding preceptors are clearly so desperate to find someone just to be able to finish their degrees (or so focused on simple convenience) that they will go with anyone who will agree to precept them, regardless. How is that promoting quality nursing education? And how much is it going to eventually damage the public perception of NPs?

Tinabeanrn

Has 9 years experience. Specializes in family nurse practitioner.

Sounds like the issue is with the online programs more so than anything else, right? I can't speak to the quality of an online schools education. I was just stating my personal experience. It would be nice to talk to some of the online N P students and grads and see how they are doing And what their experience was like. I do agree that lots of schools are popping up and offering N P degrees online. Only time will tell what the outcome will be from this new way of education. It seems like the wave of the future though. It's 2012 and things are just different now..but your right there has to be standards and there has to be quality. I would hope that each school that has students find their own sites would have a vested interest in the students education and learning prior to setting up clinicals.

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