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The All-Important Preceptorship Question

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Hi everyone!

About ready to be a senior nursing student and I'm wondering how people chose where to do their preceptorship (or, if you couldn't choose, where you would have gone if you had a choice and why?)?

There are so many different things I'm interested in that I'm having a hard time narrowing it down. I'm also trying to get myself together to start studying for my GRE and applying to grad schools, so having some insight into how others chose their path would really help me narrow down my own choices. (And does anyone have experience with online MSN or BSN-to-DNP programs?)

Thank you! :)

llg, PhD, RN

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 44 years experience.

I am a little confused. How can you be planning grad school if you don't even know what field you want to go into yet? Grad school is about specialization -- and you need to know what you want to specialize in before you make that big investment in a graduate education.

Step One: Choose a general focus area for your job/career after graduation

Step Two: Do your preceptorship on a unit that will give you some experience in that field so that you can confirm (or not) that you actually like it and have the talent to work in that field. The preceptorship should also help you get a job in that field after graduation. If possible, do the preceptorship in the same facility where you want to work after graduation -- but if that's not possible, at least have it be in the field that you want your career to focus on.

Step Three: Get a job in that field immediately after gradation. Again, it will give you the opportunity to see if you actually like working in that field -- and provide you a solid foundation upon which to build your graduate education on.

Step Four: Explore options for graduate school that will provide good opportunities for advancement in your chosen field. Explore options for various career paths (education? management? direct patient care? advanced role? etc.)

Step Five: Go to grad school if that is something that will help you develop your career in your chosen direction.

Don't put the cart before the horse. Figure out what type of nurse you want to be and get some relevant experience in that field before going to grad school. Too many people waste too much money (and time) on grad programs they regret later.

What type of nursing interests you? What did you enjoy most as a student? What job opportunities appeal to you? Start there.

I did mine on a step down floor/telemetry floor, and ended up getting a job on an intermediate care unit very similar to it but with a higher acuity level. I learned so much and really enjoyed it which was why I decided to apply to step down units. eventually I want to work in a PICU but I want to get a good foundation first.

Don't necessarily choose what you are most interested in but where you think you will learn the most and get the most skills. a big reason I say that is because some girls I went to school with did the preceptorship on L&D or mother infant and then couldn't get a job there.

llg - Thank you for your insight and information in your reply. It made a lot of sense. I down-played my passion / area of concentration in the original post. I apologize for that. I actually really would like to specialize in Cardiac nursing after school - but so many people have told me that it's next to impossible to get to work in the unit I'd like to work in (OHICU). So since I know the OHICU is pretty much unattainable as a new grad, but I love Cardiac, would you say it would be best to focus on a general ICU (for exposure to drips and vents) or a telemetry floor (to get more experience with heart strips) or a SICU (for experience with post-op patients)? That's where I'm having trouble, so any input you have would be appreciated! :)

Also, I've been looking at grad school because I know I want to further my education so that I can be knowledgeable about the Adult-Gero population and have the extra specialization in cardiac care (I would like to some day be involved in education (of new nurses) while also doing bedside care and I need at least an MSN to do that in this area). From the research I've been doing on graduate programs, it seems that you can specialize but specialty programs aren't available everywhere. Most of the MSN programs I've found are either Adult-Gero Acute or Adult-Gero Primary or Peds or Mental Health, but only some of the MSN programs have a specialty beyond that. Say if I wanted to work in Cardiac for the Adult-Gero Acute Care population, I could get the MSN for the Adult-Gero Acute Care at a number of universities but the Cardiac specialization at only a few.

And you're right that I'm probably jumping into this faster than I should. The reason why is because I'm a non-traditional student and I waited way too long to go back to school to finish my degree this time, so I don't want to get caught up in the current and find myself another 10-15 years down the road still waiting to follow my dreams. I keep feeling the need to get everything done like yesterday.

MLSTTS2015 - You bring up a good point - I hadn't looked at it from the perspective of getting the most bang for my buck. I know there are some units that I will never have a chance at getting a job in directly out of school, but my wild side says I should dare to dream and try those areas out to see if they are really what I want. The more grounded side of me says to keep an eye on the prize - finding employment after graduation. Since I usually listen to the cautious side, it is good to see that others who follow that have seen positive results. :)

Edited by ChickaBoom
Wanted to thank a poster and forgot to include it.