Today in the chart

A Lack of Nurse Preceptor Training is Hurting the Next Generation of NPs

NPs as a community are passionate about education and raising the next generation — so why are there so few preceptors?

Many nurse practitioner programs require students to find their own preceptor – someone with the knowledge and skills to serve as a teacher, guide, and role model. Unfortunately, finding the right preceptor can be daunting, made even more difficult by a lack of adequate support for NP preceptors.

Research presented at the 2019 American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) annual conference, one of the most-attended scientific poster sessions, showed barriers for NPs to attend preceptor development training, advising a need to develop new strategies to support NP preceptors.

A survey administered by researchers from the University of Connecticut School of Nursing during the 2018 AANP annual meeting sought to identify the needs of NP preceptors in terms of development, training, resources, and use of clinical teaching methods. Given to attendees who had either previously been preceptors to NP students or were interested in becoming one, the survey recorded demographic data, preceptor experience, knowledge and use of clinical teaching methods, and access to resources provided by nursing schools and students.

Some 204 NPs (89.7% women) completed the survey. The respondents’ mean age was 47 years, and the mean number of years having practiced as an NP was 10.8.

The researchers found only 23% of respondents had received formal preceptor training, and one-third felt they needed to prepare more to teach students. This suggests a need for more accessible preceptor training programs.

Additional compelling results from the survey include:

  • The most significant barriers to attending preceptor development training were availability (41% of respondents) and time (37%).
  • The preferred formats for preceptor development were web-based, asynchronous training (36%), and conference workshops (32%).
  • Preferred topics for preceptor development were methods to increase students’ critical-thinking skills and clinical reasoning.
  • 34% of respondents reported “neutral” or “disagreed with” feeling prepared to teach students.
  • About 60% of respondents reported understanding the educational objectives of the clinical rotations.
  • About 56% of respondents reported receiving student-generated goals.
  • About 88% of respondents felt receiving student-generated goals would help during clinical rotations.

If you are currently an NP preceptor or are considering becoming one, check out these helpful tools provided by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing to be the best role model for your students:

  • The American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) website contains helpful information for program faculty, clinical preceptors, and APRN students in nurse-midwifery programs. It includes valuable tools for the qualities of effective preceptors, clinical placement responsibilities, developing resource skills, and preceptor resources.
  • The National Association of Nurse Practitioner Faculties (NONPF) website contains helpful information for clinical preceptor nurse practitioner faculties working with acute and primary care nurse practitioner students. Sample resources include working with overly confident and overly sensitive nurse practitioner students. Free videos are available for use by APRN clinical preceptor that highlights tips on reasonable expectations for the student role.
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