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Frequently Asked Questions about Preceptors

 What is a Preceptor?

Preceptors mentor students to help ensure that each student is prepared to enter the profession. You have the ability to have a profound influence on the future of nursing and Advanced Practice Nurses. Preceptors and students are paired within the clinical/non-clinical environments where the preceptors ​are usually employed. Preceptors’ practices include private offices, clinics, county departments of health, home healthcare, hospitals, and agencies.

  • The preceptor provides opportunities to learn with gradually diminishing supervision over the course of the semester. Preceptors have the ability to aide us in developing competency and problem-solving abilities in students.
  • Preceptors can be nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, physicians, physician assistants, researchers, nurse educators, or other health care clinicians.
  • Preceptors assist in the clinical/in-direct care role education of CU-CON graduate nursing students.
  • Some of the roles of a preceptor include consultant, educator, mentor, resource person, and role-model.
  • With some of our acute-care focused programs, students may be scheduled on inter professional consultation teams in acute care/hospital settings.

 How are placements/practicums arranged?

Typically, the Specialty Director contacts sites/preceptors to request a placement. Less often and in our rural sites, it might be a student or course coordinator making the initial contact. After a clinician has agreed to be a preceptor, the school’s Graduate Placement Office and the Specialty Director will work with the clinic, preceptor, and student, arranging all of the administrative details, including contracts and Health and Safety requirements.​


 What are the expectations of a preceptor?

Preceptors provide our students the opportunities to obtain real-life, hands-on, experiences while providing guidance and clinical expertise. An expectation of a preceptor is to hold the clinical credentials for which the student is studying. Graduate students are paired with preceptors who have attained a graduate or post graduate education. While students may work with more than one clinician, in general, students should be paired with a primary preceptor who can monitor the student’s progress over the course of the semester.​


 What is the time commitment?

Most clinical courses consist of 45-135 hours over a semester. There is flexibility in the students’ schedules as this allows the preceptor to identify preferred days and/or days of the week that he/she is available.​


 What should I expect from the APN student?

The Specialty Director will provide information on course specific expectations and course objectives. In general, before a student’s first clinical/non-clinical placement, he/she has had an opportunity in the classroom and simulation lab to learn advanced comprehensive assessment, diagnostic reasoning skills, and knowledge and skills in prevention and management of common health issues. In order for the student to practice these skills in the clinical setting, the student should quickly begin working with patients/systems through the preceptor experience. If you have any concerns about a student that you are a preceptor to during your time together, contact the Specialty Director or course faculty.​


 Will I have contact with any faculty during the student’s healthcare rotation?

For each clinical/indirect care course, a student is assigned a clinical faculty, to seek feedback from the preceptor as the rotation is progressing. The goal of the mid-clinical rotation contact is to obtain information on the student’s progress, clarify questions, and continue to support both the preceptor and student learner. Contact may be electronic, by phone, or in person. During a site visit (if applicable), these faculty do not provide any care or act as a provider in any manner. Please know that faculty are available to assist you with any student questions that arise. Each faculty will supply the preceptor with contact information.​


 How are students evaluated during their clinical rotation?

Preceptors have on-going opportunities for informal and formal assessment of student performance. Preceptors will be asked to provide either mid-semester and end-semester (or both) evaluations. These are given electronically through InPlace, on a course-provided document which the student or faculty will initiate and explain. These evaluations are an important part of the student’s growth, yet, the time commitment to fill one out is not cumbersome.​​​


 Are there any tangible benefits for being a graduate nursing preceptor?

The College of Nursing greatly appreciates the time and commitment the preceptor provides our Graduate students. Your commitment to the clinical and role related education of nursing students can be profound. Please see the Preceptor Benefits Brochure on the main page, which outlines commitments the College makes to you, the preceptor, for your engagement with our students.