Preceptor Preparation Online Course - Advanced

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Essential Competencies of Preceptors: A Focus on Working with APRN Students

Module 1: Preceptor Roles and Responsibilities


Many factors shape the way clinicians approach the role of being a preceptor. Previous experiences as a student, both negative and positive, in basic nursing preparation often influence how the preceptor approaches students in the clinical setting. Additionally, issues related to transition into professional practice by their preceptors and unit educators impact the clinical learning experiences planned for students. According to Gaberson and Oermann (2010), "every clinical teacher has a philosophy of clinical teaching, whether or not the teacher realizes it. That philosophy determines the teacher's understanding of his or her role, approaches to clinical teaching, selection of teaching and learning activities, use of evaluation processes, and relationships with learners and others in the clinical environment" (p. 1). As the APRN clinician prepares to serve as a preceptor, it is important to examine personal values and beliefs and how they influence clinical teaching.

Nursing is a practice discipline, learning experiences in the clinical setting are integral to the preparation of registered nurses. Learning in the clinical setting is an active process, and provides the learners with opportunities to apply content learned in other settings, including the classroom and laboratory settings. The nurse's personal philosophy about clinical teaching and learning has a direct impact on how learning experiences are planned. There are differences in opinion about how to balance clinical teaching with evaluation. Conflict exists about supervision versus teaching in the clinical environment. (Evaluation is discussed further later in this module).

Gaberson and Oermann (2010) present elements of a philosophy of clinical teaching, and discuss how these impact the teaching - learning experience. The preceptor's personal philosophy of clinical teaching most likely reflects some of the following elements:

  • Clinical education should reflect the nature of professional nursing
  • The graduate student is a learner, not a clinician
  • Sufficient learning time should be provided before evaluation
  • Clinical teaching is supported by a climate of mutual trust and respect
  • Clinical teaching and learning should focus on essential knowledge, skills, and attitudes

It is important that the preceptor examine personal approaches, attitudes and biases about expectations of nursing students, and how this might affect their personal teaching philosophy.


Read and think about the check point question below. After answering the question, roll over the text and read the answer.

A practitioner with several years' experience has been asked to precept an APRN student for the first time. As the practitioner begins to prepare for this experience, what should be considered when preparing to transition to the role of preceptor?

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