How to Find a Nurse Practitioner Preceptor: Top Strategies You Should be Using
Perhaps one the most challenging aspects of graduate school of nurse practitioners is finding a preceptor. While some programs offer clinical placement, an overwhelming number of schools offer minimal assistance, placing that burden on you as the NP student.
Read through to discover the important things you should be doing to maximize your efforts and secure a mentor well before your clinical rotations.
Update your resume
Before starting your search, one of the first things you must do is brush up your resume. You’ll be handing this out and emailing it numerous times to potential office staff. Use my resume checklist to make sure you’re highlighting what’s pertinent.
You also need to prepare an elevator pitch that briefly describes:
Who you are
What you’re looking for
Why the company would benefit from you learning from them.
Being a preceptor is time consuming, so try to present your pitch as a win-win. Here’s an example:
Hi Dr. Soenso. My name is Suzie and I’m a family nurse practitioner student at WXYZ University. I’m looking to partner with you for a portion of my graduate school education to gain hands-on experience caring for pediatric and adult patients within your clinic. During my rotation, I look forward to contributing my organization and time management skills in a valuable way.
You can use the above in an email or as a template when meeting a clinician in person.
A few tips to consider when embarking on your preceptor pursuit:
Start your search early, about 12 months or more in advance.
Grow your network. You want to plant the seed and cultivate these relationships. Stay top of mind by sending a note or email periodically to connect while checking the status of your clinical site.
Find at least 3 preceptors and have 1-2 alternates. If one preceptor becomes unavailable, you’ll have a back up within easy reach.
When initially contacting sites:
Via email, consider sending a video greeting.
Via phone, remain upbeat and positive. Always get a name, title, and phone number/extension for follow up.
In person, bring some pre-packaged goodies and a handwritten note. This is a small, yet thoughtful gesture that’s sure to get your noticed when you leave your resume. And honestly, you get to see an office manager or the like much sooner.
5. Reach out to smaller clinics first. Larger organizations usually have contracts with local universities and accept only those affiliated students.
Join nurse practitioner organizations.
There are a plethora of professional organizations for NP students to enjoy and benefit from. These range from national, state, regional, and local chapter organizations. The American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) is a national organization with student membership rates. You can benefit from educational opportunities and network with nurse practitioners in your field of interest. Some professional organizations have preceptor finder tools and will connect you with available NPs.
Leverage your current employer.
This is almost like having a golden ticket. You have a window of opportunity to reach out to your warm network. Remember, that you are your strongest voice when it comes to sharing that you are in school to become a nurse practitioner. Use it to your advantage.
Arrange opportunities to shadow in different departments. If you are working in a hospital, for instance, you have a much better chance of connecting with a nurse practitioner and visiting their unit than if you were sending a cold email asking for the same opportunity.
Get to know the physicians and other nurse practitioners in the department. Ask questions that show you’re thinking on a clinician level. You’d be surprised that many providers like to teach and mentor but with the demanding workload, it can be a challenge. Offer to be a relief and see how working together would ease the job.
Utilize Linked In.
Reaching out to nurse practitioners on Linked In is another way to find preceptor leads. You simply create a Linked In profile, search for NPs in your area, reach out and make the connection. Linked In has both free and paid features to make communicating with other nurse practitioners easier.
Consider a preceptor match program.
While listed last, it certainly shouldn’t be thought of as a last resort. There are a handful of online resources that provide services that match you up with a local preceptor in your area. If going this route, you should also set out to start early as these pairings can take some time. One benefit of these paid offerings is that you’ll likely have a more committed preceptor as they are getting an incentive for mentoring students.
Ready to take the first steps, download your free resume checklist.