How important is an RN program's number of precepted clinical hours?


I'm trying to decide between a variety of options for my BSN, and this issue of precepted clinical hours recently emerged as a potential factor in my selection process.

This occurred after I spoke with a senior nurse recruiter and and a nurse who evaluates new grad applications for a local hospital, both in Northern California where I currently live and plan to look for work. Both of them said that one of the most important things that they look at to determine if the person is a good fit for the unit or program is the applicant's precepted clinical hours. If the person had a preceptorship (capstone, integrated practicum, etc.) in a similar unit with comparable acuity and adequate hours, the applicant was more likely to get the job.

Okay, so I called all of the programs that I either had been accepted to or hoped to be accepted to and asked about this. Guess what? They didn't have any idea offhand. And the info appears nowhere on their websites, or even in their student handbooks. I had to email and wait for weeks sometimes to get a response. Three schools haven't responded to my question and they offered me admission!

So.. what's the deal? If this is such an important factor, why is this information so difficult to find?

And more importantly, should I weigh the precepted clinical hours heavily in my decision? The BSN and ABSN programs that have responded to my question and offered me admission have

- 180 out of 940 total (ABSN)

- 240 out of 870 overall (BSN)

- 360 over 1170 overall (ABSN)

Thanks in advance for your guidance. I sure could use it!


73 Posts

Specializes in telemetry, ICU. Has 2 years experience.

There are so many factors that go into getting a new grad job, yes the senior preceptorhship is a huge factor but not the only one. It is definitely helpful to get a preceptorship in the area you want to work and when you apply to jobs it may be helpful. However, in school there are limited spots in certain areas (usually harder to land a ED or ICU spot), so you might not get a preceptorship in your ideal area and that can complicate the job search, which I am sure you know is incredibly tough in CA to get a new grad job. I graduated Dec. 2012 from a N. CA BSN program, I did 200 (180 minimum) hours of precepting and around 1200 total clinical hours. I also did over 300 hours of an internship at the same hospital...still didn't get a job there. I can honestly say that yes if you precept on a unit that is hiring you are more likely to get a job, but that means you need to find out which hospitals are hiring and what floors- and request that for your preceptorship but there is no guarantee you will get it. It's hard to find preceptors for all the nursing students in this saturated area. This is something very far down the line for you, right now I would focus on keeping GPA and grades up, finding extra curricular stuff, doing CNA work, etc to increase your chances for getting the spot you want when the time comes (my school let you list your preferences for unit, and based on your grades and letter of recommendation you are placed). As far as choosing a path, I would definitely go BSN- when you look for jobs it's always "BSN preferred". 180 hours and up is good for precepting, often you are allowed to do as much as you can and exceed the minimum. Not sure what an ABSN is? accelerated? That is up to you, do what is best for you. Good luck! Sounds like you will make a very informed choice!


399 Posts

Specializes in Telemetry.

Besides all of the job importance and opinions of hiring managers and all of that stuff, *you* will feel more comfortable as a new grad nurse if you have a longer preceptorship. To me, preceptorship was completely different than the regular nursing school clinicals and I think it had a huge, irreplaceable role in my current comfort level as a new grad RN. And I did get hired onto my preceptorship unit. Keep in mind that some schools allow you to go beyond the preceptorship hours, as they are more like a minimum.


69 Posts

Thanks so much to you both. Now that it's clear how important precepted hours are, I'm just left to wonder why it is so freakin hard to get this information out of programs who have admitted me. I'm on my 4th call and 3rd email with a local program to find out. Maybe I should note that as a harbinger of things to come and pass on their offer?