Preceptors report many individual and varied reasons and benefits associated with precepting students. Preceptors often note the satisfaction they receive in knowing the value of what they are contributing to the “next generation” of APRNs and APHNs. Some feel the need to “pay back” the debt they incurred during their own professional education and believe that it is a professional responsibility. A great number report that they themselves benefit from the stimulation and challenge of working in collaboration with a student. The student’s questions may stimulate the preceptor to investigate the latest evidence for a problem or dig deeper for an explanation. As one nurse practitioner preceptor said, “It is sometimes too easy to get lazy in primary care and do what you have been doing for years. You know that what you are doing is safe, but does it really reflect the latest thinking about a problem? Having a student with me nudges me to check out the literature again and see if there is a better way. Or I can ask the student to look up a problem and verify our management. Often students are doing this all the time in class so they are very comfortable with these requests. They may even have easier access to the latest resources…”. An important benefit to community and public health professionals is the gratification of advancing the practice of public health nursing. It offers additional networking opportunities with other community and public health practitioners and the satisfaction of sharing knowledge and experience. Finally, it develops professional ability to coach others towards the goal of health for all.
Preceptors also report that serving in this role brings status and recognition within their organizations. Some preceptors report that their organization’s willingness to allow them to precept is an important indicator of how the organization values teaching, growth, and professional autonomy. “Even in a busy practice setting, an employer who would not allow me to precept would tell me a lot about what they value and their overemphasis on the bottom line.”
Catholic University offers appointments to preceptors in accordance with their level of involvement with graduate programs and based on the individual’s qualifications. Most preceptors are clinical educators and receive yearly certificates of recognition. Others who precept consistently and contribute in other ways, such as serving as guest lecturers, may apply to the Dean to adjunct faculty status.
The Conway School of Nursing is deeply grateful to its preceptors and is committed to supporting them. Preceptors are provided a list of classes and lectures at the beginning of the semester and are invited to attend any of interest. For example, a nurse practitioner who has begun to see more adolescents in his/her practice may elect to attend targeted lectures offered in the adolescent course. Others may choose to attend classes on motivational interviewing, ADHD, and mental health screening in primary care. The Conway School of Nursing presents monthly presentations about topical issues in global health on the first Wednesday of each month to which all preceptors and clinical colleagues are invited. Faculty are ready to provide preceptors with letters of recognition and acknowledgement of hours spent precepting, which may be used for recertification. The Conway School of Nursing has offered tuition benefits to preceptors, allowing them to enroll in one Conway School of Nursing course a year at a reduced tuition rate. This benefit is dependent upon yearly University funding. Preceptors may also benefit by partnering with faculty on research projects, manuscripts, and other outreach activities in the community, such as sports physical education clinics, immunization clinics, and health fairs.