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What is preceptorship? Does everyone complete this in their last semester, even ASN? Just wondering. Thanks!

Lev, MSN, RN, NP

4 Articles; 2,805 Posts

Specializes in Family Nurse Practitioner.

I don't think all schools have a preceptorship or practicum as it was called in my school. Basically, your school pairs you up with a staff RN from a hospital usually and you go there and work one on one with the RN for a certain number of hours. It's really a great experience for students because they get to do hands on nursing that they were not able to do as a student in a large clinical group. For many students, it's a chance to handle a patient load larger than 1 or 2 patients. It also leads to job prospects in some cases. Schools try to match you up with preceptors working on a unit that is in a specialty of interest. I wanted a practicum in critical care and I was placed in PACU (which yeah is on the critical care continuum, but is not quite ICU). Still, I had a great experience, and I would not trade my time there with any other experience.

Specializes in Critical Care.

Preceptorship is when you work one on one with a staff nurse on their schedule. Not every school has this in their clinical model, so your best bet is to talk to your school to see if they have one. My school does one, and I'm finding that it makes my clinical schedule more flexible since I work it out with my preceptor, instead of having set clinical days.

Specializes in Emergency Department.

Preceptorship is one of those experiences where you are teamed up one-on-one with a nurse who was trained to teach nurses. You spend your entire time with that one nurse. You work on their schedule and not the typical clinical schedule that you have done for the previous semesters. In my program, our preceptorship is just 96 hours long. With very few exceptions, we are expected to step up and function as a nurse, doing everything that a regular staff nurse would do.

Think of it as a time for you to really shine as a student, because it gives the hospital an excellent chance to really see how you perform as a nurse. They get to see you day in and day out working with one particular nurse and that nurse reports back to both your clinical instructor and the facility. You can be sure that if you are going to get a job interview/offer from that facility, it will probably be because of how you performed during your preceptorship. It is a time for you to really step up and be the nurse, and take a full load as much as possible.

Some schools set up the preceptorship for you and some schools request that you select your preceptor and submit that selection to the school for approval.

I think that schools that have a preceptorship component do it as a way to transition the student nurse into the professional nurse role. I think it is a great idea for schools to do this, otherwise students basically go straight from student role into the professional nurse role with very little transition time, that being the time they get during orientation to wherever they get a job.

classicdame, MSN, EdD

2 Articles; 7,255 Posts

Specializes in Hospital Education Coordinator.

In my area, schools are doing preceptorships in order to eliminate the salaries of clinical instructors. The preceptors are not paid. Please know that having a student is very hard for the licensed nurse, as time to teach can be a real luxury.


901 Posts

Specializes in public health, women's health, reproductive health.

I am in a five semester program, the last semester being preceptorship. As others have already stated, we get paired up with an RN and work with him or her for a certain number of hours or shifts. I think they take into account our preferences and try to place us accordingly, if possible. I am in my third semester and have been thinking a lot about preceptorship and where I would like to be. I think preceptorship will be where I learn the most, as clinical groups can be relatively large for just one clinical instructor.


3,677 Posts

Specializes in L&D, infusion, urology.

Different schools approach preceptorship in different ways. For us, we also have two lecture courses we're taking, and we have community health clinicals. Last semester, we put in requests for which hospitals and which units we wanted. The schools coordinate with people at the hospitals to set up preceptorships (and they have to be balanced with the other schools in the area). I was set up for the most part at my last choice, but hadn't been lined up with a person yet. At the end of med/surg clinicals, I heard that the manager was headed up to one of my DRRRREEEEEAAAAAMMMM units. When I ran into her the next day, I asked her about it, and told her that I'd love to get up there someday. Long story short, she likes me and after some stars aligning, instructors working with me, and the manager's help, I'm currently precepting on that unit. She also threw in there that she's known for hiring new grads. Fingers crossed!!!!!

Many view the preceptorship as a long job interview (in our case, 180 hours). That's how I'm treating it. It's a fantastic learning opportunity, and by being with a nurse the whole time (as opposed to different nurses each day), you really learn how THEY do things, and you're not constantly get reoriented to how THIS nurse does stuff.


479 Posts

Specializes in Cardiac, ER, Pediatrics, Corrections.

I'm in my last semester of a BSN program. i did my preceptorship over Christmas break. It was great! I worked on a Med/Surg floor and floated to the ER often. You work with one nurse and you basically function as a new nurse on the floor. They are a great experience. I didn't feel like a nurse until I did my preceptorship. I did 120 hours. It is a good gateway to a job offer!

We also had a preceptorship. it was awesome! It was the last 6 weeks of our last semester. We put in our top 3 choices and our clinical instructor does her best to find a preceptor in one of those choices. We have to do 120 hrs. And, like others said, do whatever nursing stuff our preceptor does! I did mine in L&D and loved every minutes of it! Oh, and I was in an ADN program!

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