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Is finding a preceptor always hard?

Posted

Has 5 years experience.

Hi guys! I'm starting to get acceptance offers from WHNP programs for this fall. I know full well that finding a preceptor will be hard and so I've already started networking on LinkedIn and have had the opportunity to shadow a couple of APRNs working in women's health. I also plan to join some local NP organizations and the Nurse Practitioners in Women's Health in order to start networking there when I officially become a student and can join. My question is, is finding a preceptor always a hassle? The area that I hope to do clinicals in if I'm able to has the nearest FNP school over an hour away and the nearest WHNP/CNM schools are almost 3 hours away so I'm hoping saturation isn't too much of a problem. I also have friends all over the country and am willing to temporarily relocate if need be. However, maybe I'm being naive but I see a potential advantage in securing your own preceptor vs having a school use a preceptor they've used time and time again. I'm hoping that by networking and finding my own preceptor it will help me get my name out there as a new provider and help secure job placement upon graduation vs trying to compete for the same jobs that everyone else is competing for because everyone in that school uses the same clinical sites. I guess I'm looking for insight on finding preceptors in non-NP saturated areas has gone for people in the past and whether people found that their networking and necessity to find their own preceptors maybe benefitted them in the end. Any input is helpful! Thank you!!

Pixie.RN, MSN, RN, EMT-P

Specializes in EMS, ED, Trauma, CNE, CEN, CPEN, TCRN. Has 12 years experience.

It really sounds like you're doing all the right things! I know a lot of people who have been successful in securing preceptors, so it's not ALWAYS difficult. You hit some of the roadblocks in your post: saturated markets, lack of networking ahead of time. Just be proactive and you'll be successful! Best of luck to you!

Jules A, MSN

Specializes in Family Nurse Practitioner.

I used business contacts to find all my own preceptors for both psych and fnp and wouldn't have had it any other way. I learned from physicians who I knew were skilled in facilities where I wanted to work. It was like an extended job interview and I had an offer in hand prior to graduation.

terfernay

Has 5 years experience.

Thank you two for your input. I spoke to a WHNP yesterday who gave me some tips for networking and finding a preceptor. She also reiterated the point that the clinic staff are watching you to see how you might work within their team and may be open to creating a job for someone they feel like can contribute to their clinic which reassured me because I know there typically aren't very many posted WHNP positions. I'm wondering if anyone else can contribute their input to this discussion. Any advice would be welcomed. Thank you!

Finding a preceptor is likely to be difficult, often very difficult, for many reasons.

Decades ago, if you had been an RN for many years, and an MD thought you would make a good NP, they would "sponsor" you, even train you to some degree, hire you, and then of course make a ton of money off you.

Times have changed. Most prospective NP students no longer have lengthy experience as an RN, and some have none. Most do not have solid relationships with providers in their chosen field.

In looking for a preceptor, you are essentially asking a stranger to do you an enormous favor. Their boss has to be on board with it as well, because their productivity will not be 100% with you there.

That being said, persistence is the name of the game. You will simply keep looking until you find someone.

I had relatively little difficulty finding a preceptor for my ANP program. She was a stranger to me. I was always pleasant, polite, and prepared, and I never had any issues with her, or caused any type of trouble. I gave her a gift certificate for a massage when my hours were complete.

Yet, she said she was all done taking students.

For my Psych NP program, I had a very unfortunate experience with a preceptor. Every student's worst nightmare.

After working with her for almost a year, she refused to give me credit, and I had to start from scratch.

Nevertheless, I consider that very negative experience to be among the most important and formative of my career.

It built in me a fortitude, and eventually a confidence that is not found in any book.

Persistence wins the day.

Callthenavynurse15

Specializes in Labor and Delivery. Has 2 years experience.

I've been blessed that I haven't had issues but I applied to a program that I knew had a contract with the midwife I have chosen as my preceptor. So when they came to me they told me they have 1 clinical contract in my area and if I have access to this hospital (it's a military facility). I do have access and I was able to say CNM *** has agreed to precept me so we got that ball rolling quickly. Another girl who is way ahead of me was pushed back 2 semesters because of lack of clinical sites. I've even offered to travel 3+ hours away for clinical if necessary but that's because I know I can stay with my parents if necessary but I hopefully won't need that option.

terfernay

Has 5 years experience.

I'm waiting until I decide which school I'm going to go to and then I'll learn what that school's requirements are for hours, sites, credentials of preceptors, etc and then will just start asking around ASAP. If I need to I have friends I could potentially stay with across the country and plan to utilize this if necessary. I also plan to actually drive to the clinics with my resume and ask to speak to someone instead of just calling if I'm able to. I hope these extra efforts pay off! But I know in the end if I'm willing to travel that I will eventually find someone who will precept with me but hopefully it doesn't have to come down to that :)

Rocknurse, MSN, APRN, NP

Specializes in Critical Care and ED. Has 31 years experience.

The benefit of going to a school that finds your preceptors for you, is that they have built up a solid network of excellent, vetted preceptors who have been checked and approved to give you a good experience. The best schools require feedback from the students about their preceptor experience, and if they're not up to par, the school won't use them again. The more people sign up for schools that don't find preceptors for their students, the less inclined they will be to stop this sham of a racket. Search for schools that provide your preceptors.

Jules A, MSN

Specializes in Family Nurse Practitioner.

The benefit of going to a school that finds your preceptors for you, is that they have built up a solid network of excellent, vetted preceptors who have been checked and approved to give you a good experience. .

Or a collection of recent new grad NP alums who have no experience and are still finding their way. This was and still is the case with the highly ranked brick and mortar state school I attended.

You will mimic your preceptor which is why it is so important you select someone skilled. I did my clinicals with physicians I knew to be excellent diagnosticians and prescribers for that reason.

terfernay

Has 5 years experience.

The benefit of going to a school that finds your preceptors for you, is that they have built up a solid network of excellent, vetted preceptors who have been checked and approved to give you a good experience. The best schools require feedback from the students about their preceptor experience, and if they're not up to par, the school won't use them again. The more people sign up for schools that don't find preceptors for their students, the less inclined they will be to stop this sham of a racket. Search for schools that provide your preceptors.

There are many reasons why I'm personally choosing not to attend a school that finds clinical placements for students. My nearest school that offers this is 1.5 hours away and where we plan to move to it will be over 3 hours away. This school is also twice as expensive, DNP only, and I wouldn't be able to start until fall 2019. The schools I've applied to also keep lists of preceptors they've used in the past with previous students and the thing I like about having the ability to find my own preceptor is that it allows me to try to find clinical experiences in the region I anticipate living and working in as an NP aka greater Minnesota and not the Twin Cities which is where most if not all the clinical sites will be if I choose to go to the local school. I have no intention in working in an urban area upon graduation and see the benefit of getting clinical experience in mostly rural areas as a student if I intend to practice in a rural area. That was the whole point of distance NP programs when they first started (Frontier) in order to allow nurses to stay in their home communities to deliver services in areas that otherwise struggle to recruit providers to the area because most providers upon graduation choose to work in urban areas. I also believe that the necessary amount of networking that is required to secure your own clinical sites is a valuable skill that will serve me well in my practice and may open the door to more job opportunities in the future vs if I just sat back and let the school place me in random sites that I have no intention in working in upon graduation. I agree though if you live in an area that has schools that secure clinical placements for you or if you plan to work in an urban area upon graduation then it makes complete sense to apply to these schools and not go to distance learning schools that require you to find your own preceptor.

Edited by terfernay

lavendou

Has 1 years experience.

Finding clinical preceptors was one of the most difficult parts of my FNP program. I had a particularly difficult time with pediatric preceptors. For me the two biggest issues were:

1) I selected an out of state program and there are several local programs I was competing with. I found many clinical sites simply had a preference for local schools.

2) I was not specializing in Peds and many pediatric primary care opportunities only offered preceptor opportunities to pediatric NP students. Others had a waiting list of one to two years. The sooner you start to look, the better!

I wound up doing my primary care peds rotation in a remote area that was about a 4 hour drive away. I stayed at an Air BnB for a pretty low cost relatively speaking. I drove home every Friday to work on the weekends and back to the clinical site Sunday nights. It was not easy, but that clinical rotation was amazing. I was exposed to more variety and technical skills than my rotations in the urban setting.

Although stressful, I appreciated identifying my own clinical opportunities because it allowed me to customize my own experiences. I cannot emphasize enough the need to start EARLY to identify your preceptors. There are many willing preceptors, but they tend to get booked up early.

terfernay

Has 5 years experience.

Finding clinical preceptors was one of the most difficult parts of my FNP program. I had a particularly difficult time with pediatric preceptors. For me the two biggest issues were:

1) I selected an out of state program and there are several local programs I was competing with. I found many clinical sites simply had a preference for local schools.

2) I was not specializing in Peds and many pediatric primary care opportunities only offered preceptor opportunities to pediatric NP students. Others had a waiting list of one to two years. The sooner you start to look, the better!

I wound up doing my primary care peds rotation in a remote area that was about a 4 hour drive away. I stayed at an Air BnB for a pretty low cost relatively speaking. I drove home every Friday to work on the weekends and back to the clinical site Sunday nights. It was not easy, but that clinical rotation was amazing. I was exposed to more variety and technical skills than my rotations in the urban setting.

Although stressful, I appreciated identifying my own clinical opportunities because it allowed me to customize my own experiences. I cannot emphasize enough the need to start EARLY to identify your preceptors. There are many willing preceptors, but they tend to get booked up early.

Thank you for your words of advice! I am still waiting to hear back from my top choice school as to whether I got in or not and then I plan to start asking potential preceptors ASAP after that. I just want to know for sure which school I'll be attending and what the clinical requirements are for that school as far as how many hours, timeframe, types of clinical settings allowed, credentials of preceptors, etc before I start asking around. I also plan to quit my job when I start clinicals to make my schedule more flexible to be able to accommodate the number of hours required and I'm also hoping it will allow me to be flexible with the location in which I can do clinicals. The closest NP program is over an hour away so I'm hoping this decreases the level of saturation and I hope that not all potential preceptors already have contracts with local schools. Does anyone else have any tips or words of advice? Thank you!!

It makes me sad that this conversation has been happening since 2018 and even before, since 2014 (when I learned about it)

I hope it worked out okay for you, finding your clinical site! For anyone struggling who finds this. As of April 2020, the best place to find preceptors is on LinkedIn!


Please use it wisely and be kind to anyone your messaging 🙂

StacyAtheNurse, BSN, MSN

Specializes in OR SCRUBULATOR. Has 6 years experience.

Before I accepted an offer for an NP school, I made sure I had two options to cover me for clinical placements, because I don’t have the patience, nor the tolerance for foolishness. My school gives placement for local students, but I am 7000 miles away, so I have planned to either transfer to per diem at my job and move my family down there to do this, OR I will use NPhub. It is a paid service, you will prob have to fork out about 2-5k per semester rotation. Personally, I am still weighing my options. If I stay full time, and pay NPhub, my job pays my tuition, which is 4500/semester. Sooooooo either way, but check them out, they handle everything for you, and they’re very user friendly.