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

With only 15 to 20 minutes to spend with each patient and an ever growing list of tasks you’re supposed to complete in that time, it makes sense that most medical professionals aren’t interested in precepting.

In fact, both nurses and physician assistants are experiencing preceptor shortages, which naturally raises concerns about the next generation of NPs and PAs.

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

That’s why Elizabeth Gatewood, DNP, RN, FNP-C, CNE, professor at University of California San Francisco’s School of Nursing, is raising awareness about the one-minute preceptor model. Dr. Gatewood has researched its efficacy and recently spoke about its value for a webinar hosted by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.

In Dr. Gatewood’s experience, clinicians often aren’t aware of the benefits precepting can provide. They might be enough to get you on the phone with your local nursing or PA school…

Why Become a Nurse Preceptor?

Keeping your clinical knowledge up to date. As a busy clinician, you probably don’t have time to read about the latest guidelines relevant to your specialty or breaking medical developments. Well, students are taught the most recent clinical best practices, so sharing knowledge when precepting is often a two-way street.

Career development. If adding your new role to your CV isn’t enough of a motivator, many nursing schools allow preceptors to claim adjunct professor status, says Dr. Gatewood.

Continuing education. In exchange for helping mold the next generation of RNs or advanced practitioners, many schools will provide funds you can use toward CE courses or conferences. Additionally, many accrediting organizations count precepting toward recertification requirements.

Free access to research and other databases. Because you’ll be affiliated with an institute of higher-education, you may be able to gain access to research journals, the school’s library or even UpToDate at a reduced cost. If the school isn’t upfront about these perks, don’t hesitate to ask, Dr. Gatewood advises.

RELATED: What’s It Really Like to Be the Only PCP in a Small, Rural Town?

Giving back. Okay, maybe you’ve already thought of this one! Perhaps the best benefit of precepting is knowing that you’re passing on the skills that someone else took time to teach you. What’s more, you’re helping prepare the next generation of NPs and PAs for a world where they’ll have increasing autonomy.

Tips to Make Precepting More Manageable

All the benefits in the world won’t make precepting a cinch. Luckily, Dr. Gatewood offered advice for integrating it (relatively) seamlessly into your existing workflow and avoiding burnout.

Try the one-minute preceptor model. While this structure was originally designed for MDs precepting residents, it works in a variety of clinical settings with students at a range of stages. At its core, this model has five steps:

  • Get a commitment. Prioritize one learning point for the patient encounter. Ask the student something along the lines of, “Tell me what you think is going on with this patient.”
  • Probe for evidence. Next, ask how the learner came up with the assessment. This allows you to assess his or her clinical reasoning.
  • Tech a general rule. Rather than pressuring the student to take in as much information as possible, focus on one particular lesson for him or her to take away.
  • Reinforce what was done well. Instead of giving sweeping praise, identify specific behaviors the student did correctly that will be easy to recreate.
  • Correct mistakes. Provide feedback and explain your rationale. Rather than inundating the student with changes to make going forward, focus on one or two things.

Get to know your student. Many preceptors want to dive right into teaching. But learning what the student’s goals are can help you focus your intentions and avoid cramming too much into the process.

RELATED: 8 Changes to Make at Work to Prevent Burnout as a Healthcare Provider

Ask the school for what you need. Naturally, students early on in their schooling will require more effort. Feel free to ask your contact at the school to send you students who are further along. You can also request to keep a student for more than one semester, which can help with burnout.

Take breaks. Prioritize your own mental and physical wellbeing. You can’t be the teacher your students deserve if you’re burnt out! Dr. Gatewood stresses that you should ask for semesters off if you need it. For example, only precept in the spring and fall, instead of year-round.


AAPA HOD Responds to Preceptor Shortage with Increased CME, American Academy of Physician Assistants.

The One Minute Preceptor Model: A Systemic Review, American Association of Nurse Practitioners.

The One Minute Preceptor Model: A Systemic Review, Elizabeth Gatewood, FNP-C, RN-BC, MS.

Last updated 9/19/2019

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