It’s natural for nurse practitioners to wonder how to become a preceptor. Nurses have a natural calling to give back, to put others first and help them with their problems. It’s what they do.
Educating other nurses can be a rewarding path for nurse practitioners. But what’s the reward? And how do you even get started? It’s actually easier than you may think, and the reward goes beyond just helping the next generation of NPs.
NPHub has a preceptor program that can help you get started right away, but you can also go out on your own and find some students! In this blog post we’ll talk about both scenarios.
First things first: what are the requirements to become a preceptor
If you take a look around on Google, you probably won’t find many resources on the exact requirements to precept a nurse practitioner student. This is because there aren’t any shared, countrywide guidelines on how to start precepting.
The only requirement that you absolutely need to have is experience. If you’re working with a university, which is very likely, they will ask that you have one or two years practicing as an NP. This is the most common scenario.
Other requirements are a bit more obvious, such as being licensed as an NP in the state you want to precept in, and the fact that you’ll be able to precept only in your specialty.
If you’re up-to-date with all the normal regulatory requirements, you’ll do just fine.
That being said, what about actual teaching skills? You might think you’re not going to be good at it because you’ve never had teaching training. That’s understandable.
However, we are here to tell you that precepting can be a wonderful experience if you are both patient and curious. And those are two values that most nurse practitioners already have.
After all, educating patients, listening to them, and working with them is already a part of your job description. Working with students is not the same as treating patients, but seriously, you already have more experience as a teacher than you might know.
How to get students
Before you make your decision, let’s talk a bit about the actual process of getting students.
As a nurse practitioner, all you have to do to start precepting (after making sure your have all the requirements ready) is fill out some paperwork that enables you to start teaching. The NP program of your potential student has to verify that you have the required experience to teach them.
One good reason to join our own preceptor community is that we handle that particular step for you. All you have to do with NPHub is create a preceptor account, search for students in your area, and then wait until the rotation starts.
However, we also like to encourage NPs to precept outside of our platform. Our main goal is to get as many NPs to precept as possible. You might already know this, but demand is at an all time high.
Getting students on your own
If you’re going your own way, that’s fine. You’ll just have to do some things by yourself, and the process of getting students into your clinic might take a little more time. That’s still not a reason to get discouraged: NP students need you!
If you’re taking this road, the best way to get students is to reach out to universities in your area and find out their exact requirements for preceptorship. Some of them might have their own preceptor communities that you can join.
Here’s an example from the University of Delaware. You fill out their preceptor form and they get in touch with you. You can also see a brief description of their requirements.
Here’s another example from Shenandoah University in Virginia. Look at the details: how many hours you would need to complete and how they’ll ask you to evaluate students.
Universities will check you out, maybe you will have a meeting, and then they will connect you with possible NP students to precept. Sometimes this process takes a few weeks while they develop an agreement with you and your place of work.
Want to learn more about the benefits of precepting with NPHub? Scroll down to the end of this article!
What is it like to become a preceptor?
You might find it a little hard the first few times. Depending on the school you’re precepting with, you might not be able to control how many students come to you.
That’s why it is important to get organized. Try to remember how it was when you had a preceptor. What things did you like about that experience? What things do you wish had been different?
You have the talent it takes to be a good preceptor. You just need a few resources to start the journey.
Here’s a cool guide from Vancouver Coastal Health on precepting. It’s a Canadian guide but the tips apply for US preceptors too. This guide does a good job of explaining the role of a preceptor and how to start teaching students.
Our preceptors usually report high levels of satisfaction with their role. Once they get accustomed to their students, many find the experience refreshing and very educational.
Many NPs who have hectic schedules believe that students will slow them down. But this is usually not the case.
What are the benefits of becoming a preceptor (on your own)?
As an NP preceptor, there’s a good chance that you’ll have access to many university resources and perks.
For example, Johns Hopkins University offers some online courses for preceptors and the opportunity to network with faculty and the nursing community.
Being a preceptor is also a great way to further your career development. If you’re looking to get into a leadership or administrative position down the line, the hours you spend precepting will look great in your CV.
Also, becoming a preceptor is a great opportunity to learn lots of new things from students, and keep your clinical knowledge fresh.
What are the benefits of becoming a preceptor with NPHub?
If you haven’t seen our preceptor website already, the first thing you should know is that we pay our preceptors!
This is a very controversial topic for many NPs. A lot of people think that we shouldn’t do this. However, we stand firmly in our decision to compensate our hard working preceptors.
We believe that preceptors deserve to be paid for their teaching work, so this is an opportunity for you to earn something on the side while nurturing the future generations of nurse practitioners.
You can always donate your salary if you believe preceptors shouldn’t be paid. However, we should say that most of our preceptors are completely happy with this exchange, and there are hundreds of them!
You’ll also get all the other benefits of becoming a preceptor on your own. NPHub does not work parallel to universities: we work with them. The only difference is that we do all the heavy lifting for you.
We try our best to simplify the process so you can get a student with a couple of clicks and a couple of emails. All the necessary paperwork is done through our system.
Last, but not least, you get to choose your own students! All students have a profile on our website, so you can look at them and decide if they’re a good fit for you.
You now know how to become a preceptor, be it by your own effort or with a preceptor matching service like NPHub. We hope you end up becoming one either way, so you can help us in the mission of getting every NP student to graduate on time!
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