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


In this module, we will examine the role of the APRN preceptor and strategies to meet these multifaceted priorities.

Preparation as a preceptor requires learning a new set of skills and competencies, including teaching, role modeling, and coaching. Serving as a preceptor requires patience and organization. Some experienced clinicians serving as a preceptor may find it challenging working with a novice, and providing information to the learner in meaningful ways.

There are specific competencies and attributes required of those who chose to precept. Preceptors are usually selected based upon the following criteria:

  • Clinical expertise and proficiency
  • Leadership abilities
  • Teaching skill
  • Communication skills
  • Self-directed and autonomous

Once selected, it is essential for the preceptor to be oriented to the role and expectations. For those who have served as preceptors to new staff, clear expectations must be set around the level of the learner, learning objectives and evaluation criteria or rubric, if utilized. Some schools/departments of nursing have formal meetings at the beginning of the semester to explain the expectations about clinical assignments, written assignments, student evaluations, etc. At the end of the semester/session, it is important for the preceptor to follow up with the nurse manager and staff about their experiences with the students, and to get input for future rotations.

Preceptors may face many challenges, but they also have many opportunities to shape the preceptee. The role of the preceptor is similar to the nursing process and includes assessment, planning, implementation and evaluation in guiding the student in the practice setting. The following video clip addresses the fears that are common for the APRN who is selected as a preceptor.

One myth about precepting is that all competent health care providers are prepared to serve as a preceptor (Ulrich, 2012). While it is important that clinicians selected to be preceptors demonstrate strong clinical skills, this is not sufficient to be an effective preceptor. Preparation as a preceptor requires further development of skills and competencies, including effective teaching strategies, role modeling, and coaching. A great deal of patience, organization, and flexibility is required for facilitating learning experiences that meet the unique needs of the learner. Even very experienced clinicians may find individualizing teaching to the graduate student's specific learning style challenging. In this module, we will examine the role of the preceptor and strategies to meet these multifaceted priorities.

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