If you are an NP student, you are probably familiar with the stress that comes from cold calling and cold emailing clinical preceptors. There are numerous FNP programs that do not offer adequate assistance with clinical sites and, as a student, having to find the right person on your own can be extremely exhausting, not to mention discouraging.
As if the process wasn’t already intimidating, many students are learning that it is more trying and time-consuming than ever to find preceptors in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
To current and prospective students, don’t be disheartened! While it may be stressful, persistence is the name of the game. If you are looking for a preceptor on your own, here are some tips that many NP students have said helped them find clinical preceptors, and graduate on time.
1. Hit the ground running – start early!
The process of securing a clinical preceptor on your own can be tedious, and NP students often underestimate the time it takes to secure a rotation. It is generally suggested to start looking for preceptors at least six months before your clinical rotation’s start date. Competition for NP preceptors can be prominent in areas where it is hard to secure a clinical rotation, and getting a head start ensures that you have a higher chance of securing a preceptor (and meeting your school’s requirements).
Starting early also allows you to work on finding a replacement preceptor if, for any reason, the original preceptor you secured can no longer take you during your needed time frame. Hit the ground running, and you will put yourself in the best position to meet your school’s deadlines and graduate on time.
Facebook groups are a great way for nursing students to get in touch with preceptors. It is also another tool for you to communicate with fellow NP students that may have completed a rotation with an available preceptor in your area.
While there is usually a higher student-to-preceptor ratio in these groups, they are still great places to find potential hot leads for preceptors. Groups such as ‘Practicing NPs Willing to Precept NP students for Clinicals’ and ‘Preceptors For Nurse Practitioner Students’ are among a few Facebook groups that NP students have found to be successful.
When reaching out to preceptors on Facebook, the best approach is to be professional and introduce yourself. Share your work and clinical experience, express why you’d be excited to learn from them, and outline what makes you the best candidate. Preceptors are less open to teaching students who only reach out to ask for preceptorship for their upcoming clinicals.
LinkedIn is another great way to reach out to preceptors. It is known for being a very powerful platform because not only can you filter your audience but most preceptors will have a profile on the website. LinkedIn also offers you the option to filter your search so you can look up a specific title. For example, you can search for “Nurse Practitioners” or “APRN”, and from there search for preceptors and office managers you would like to contact.
Preceptors that work at clinics with less than 50 employees tend to have a fast approval process, and the NP or office manager can give that approval quickly. This is very beneficial in situations where your school’s deadlines are quickly approaching and you need an expedited process. Larger clinics, usually owned by hospitals, have a much longer approval period, and HR processes can sometimes take months.
If you are coming up on your school’s deadline, trying to secure a preceptor in a large clinic that is not already affiliated with your school will probably make you want to pull your hair out. There is also a pretty good chance you will miss your deadline.
4. The perks of joining your state association
Joining your state association helps! While it is super undervalued, there are many benefits for nursing students that choose to join their state association. It’s an online resource that provides student discounts on membership fees, which is more beneficial than many students realize.
In addition, most NP students do not take advantage of the many doors this can open, which lead to much-needed contact with healthcare professionals and clinical sites. Due to the fact that it can strengthen your professional network and future career, you’ll find that a fee of $50-$60 is worth the cost.
At minimum, students will have access to CE (Continuing Education) credits – which can go towards the CNE requirements for all allied health professionals throughout one’s career. One major perk includes being able to communicate with a plethora of providers and preceptors that are usually in state associations. These preceptors are more willing to take in extra students or squeeze you in if they have some time available.
For even more incentive, you should know that preceptors who have joined state associations are typically more open to providing telehealth during this time, as a clinical rotation setting for precaution.
A lot of our own students, who choose to take advantage of this, say that joining state associations is a helpful resource for finding preceptors on your own, and an effective way to get responses from healthcare providers.
5. ENP Network
If you are an NP student then you probably know what the ENP Network is, and if not, it is a professional network that connects nurse practitioners with the groups they belong to, as well as colleagues and important resources.
The ENP Network sells a preceptor directory for the price of $100. However, many nursing students have told us that most of this directory is inaccurate. This is due to the fact that most of the preceptor information is not kept up to date, and thus, it is not worth spending $100. However, for the students that feel they have exhausted all of their options, it is still an additional source that could lead to a potential preceptor. You never know, you might get lucky!
Amid the uncertainty, we at NPHub are doing everything we can to accommodate NP students and let them know that we are still here. We care deeply about our students and preceptors, and are very proud of them, as many are on the front lines of COVID-19. Our healthcare professionals are doing everything they can, and we want students to know that we are doing everything we can to continue recruiting clinical preceptors and placing nurse practitioner students.
Our service is simple and we are committed to helping NP students find preceptors in less than 2 weeks. Our goal is to help you reach your goal. For students who feel they have exhausted the majority of their options, we have an e-book guide that many of our NP students have said provides helpful tips on the how-to’s of reaching out to potential preceptors and securing clinical sites.
We have always had a money back guarantee, and given everything going on in the world, we understand that these hard times are affecting everyone. During this time, if you happen to find a preceptor on your own (before or after we have placed you with a clinical preceptor) we are still going to give you a refund.
For more information on possible preceptors in your area, browse our website and book your rotation today with one of our awesome preceptors. If you want to speak with one of our Student Onboarding Specialists, click here and schedule an appointment today!
7. What not to do
Cold calling and going door to door from one clinic to another is the most common approach students take to find preceptors. While that is typically a great way to find preceptors (if handled correctly), we do not recommend going door to door as a main approach. At least not at this time when so many preceptors and nurse practitioners are at the front lines of COVID-19.
For more information on our services please feel free to contact us via Facebook or Instagram, where you can also find many useful tips for your day-to-day NP student journey. You can also call or text us at (678) 329-9029.