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

A number of 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. Finding the right preceptor can be a daunting task, 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.

RELATED: 5 Benefits of Being a Preceptor You’ve Probably Never Thought of

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 percent 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 percent of respondents had received formal preceptor training and one-third did not feel prepared enough 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 percent of respondents) and time (37 percent).
  • The preferred formats for preceptor development were web-based, asynchronous trainings (36 percent) and conference workshops (32 percent).
  • Preferred topics for preceptor development were methods to increase critical-thinking skills and clinical reasoning in students.
  • A total 34 percent of respondents reported “neutral” or “disagreed with” feeling prepared to teach students.
  • About 60 percent of respondents reported understanding the educational objectives of the clinical rotations.
  • About 56 percent of respondents reported receiving student-generated goals.
  • About 88 percent of respondents felt receiving student-generated goals would help during clinical rotations.

RELATED: How Nursing Schools Are Contributing to America’s Mental Health Crisis

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

  • American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) website contains helpful information for program faculty, clinical preceptors and APRN students in nurse-midwifery programs. It includes useful tools for qualities of effective preceptors, clinical placement responsibilities, developing resource skills and preceptor resources.
  • National Association of Nurse Practitioner Faculties (NONPF) website contains helpful information for use by clinical preceptor nurse practitioner faculties working with acute and primary care nurse practitioner students. Sample resources include working with the 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.

Last updated on 10/8/19.


  1. Maybe there would be more preceptors if they paid them something. It’s a lot of work to precept and you initially might do it out of the goodness of your heart, but after a month or so, it gets old. They rely on hard working busy NPS to add to their workload with free labor!

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