10 Proven Ways to Find a Good Nurse Practitioner Preceptor on Your Own

Written By: Lauren Jacobson MS, RN, WHNP-BC

Are you wondering how to find a nurse practitioner preceptor on your own? As a nurse practitioner (NP) student, finding a good preceptor can be a challenging task. A nurse practitioner preceptor plays a crucial role in shaping a new nurse practitioner's clinical skills, critical thinking, and judgment, and finding the right preceptor can make all the difference in your professional development.

However, due to the shortage of preceptors, limited resources, and other constraints, it may be challenging to find a suitable preceptor for your needs. In this article, we will share 10 proven ways to find a good nurse practitioner preceptor on your own. These tips will help you take the initiative and find the right preceptor to guide you through your education or career as a nurse practitioner.



A nurse practitioner preceptor is an experienced NP who works with a less experienced nurse practitioner, usually a student or a new graduate, to guide and mentor them as they develop their skills and knowledge in the field.

The preceptor acts as a teacher, clinical supervisor, and role model for the new nurse practitioner, providing guidance, support, and feedback on their performance. They work closely with the student to ensure they are meeting the requirements for their education or certification, and they help them develop the clinical judgment and critical thinking skills needed to provide safe, effective patient care.

The role of a nurse practitioner preceptor is critical in the education and professional development of new nurse practitioners, and it requires a high level of clinical expertise, communication skills, and a commitment to mentorship. I would like to highlight that while an NP preceptor is usually an NP, this is not always the case.

Sometimes physicians precept nurse practitioner students, if the physician has a particular specialty that is relevant to the prospective NP’s training, and/or if they are interested in training NPs. You can also have another mid-level provider as your preceptor.

When I was training, I had a nurse-midwife as one of my preceptors, and one of my classmates had a physician. There was one time when one of my NP preceptors was out sick and one of the physicians in the practice took me as his student for the day. I had positive experiences with all my preceptors.


Some nurse practitioner programs require students to find a preceptor on their own because of the shortage of available preceptors. The demand for nurse practitioners has grown significantly in recent years, creating a shortage of experienced preceptors to guide and mentor new nurse practitioners. Furthermore, some healthcare facilities may have policies that prohibit them from offering preceptorship to students from outside their organization due to liability or other concerns.

By requiring students to find their own preceptors, nurse practitioner programs can ensure that students have access to a broad range of clinical experiences, specialties, and mentors, even if those opportunities are not readily available through their academic institution. Additionally, this approach promotes students' ability to network and establish relationships with potential employers or colleagues in their area of interest.

In 2016 and 2017 when I was an NP student, this was starting to become a bit more common. At that time, it was a huge plus if your program promised to find you preceptors. Even though my program made this promise, some students were already networked or knew that they wanted to get experience in a certain subspecialty, so they found their own preceptors.


It's essential to start your search for a nurse practitioner preceptor as early as possible. Many nurse practitioner programs require students to secure their preceptor before they begin clinical rotations, which can be a significant challenge. The process of finding a preceptor can be time-consuming and often requires multiple attempts before you find a suitable match. Furthermore, some preceptors have limited availability, so starting your search early ensures that you have more options to choose from.

We recommend that students start their search for a preceptor at least six months before their clinical rotations begin. This timeline allows for ample time to reach out to potential preceptors, arrange interviews, and complete any necessary paperwork or background checks. Starting your search early also gives you time to establish a relationship with your preceptor and prepare for your clinical rotation.

While my program found our preceptors for us, I know they started looking almost a year in advance. Students who I knew, who had to find their own and waited until less than 4-6 months, sometimes had some trouble finding one. It is in your best interest to start the process before you think you need to.


Finding a good nurse practitioner preceptor on your own can be a challenging task. A nurse practitioner preceptor plays a crucial role in the education and training of future nurse practitioners by providing guidance and mentorship. However, with the increasing demand for nurse practitioners, finding a preceptor who has the time, willingness, and expertise to take on a student can be difficult.

There may also be limited opportunities for students to connect with preceptors, particularly in certain geographic regions or specialties. Therefore, it's important for students to network, utilize online resources, and be persistent in their search for a nurse practitioner preceptor to ensure a successful and rewarding educational experience.


REASON #1: Valuable Mentorship

A good nurse practitioner preceptor provides valuable mentorship for students. They can guide you through clinical experiences, answer questions, and share their clinical knowledge and expertise. A preceptor can offer insights on how to navigate the healthcare system, develop critical thinking skills, and build patient rapport. The mentorship of a good nurse practitioner can help you grow both professionally and personally.

The mentorship I received from my preceptors helped me navigate many challenges when I started working as an NP. I learned how to navigate difficult relationships with colleagues, discuss ethical issues with patients, and how to advocate for myself as a professional.

REASON #2: Professional Networking

Having a good nurse practitioner preceptor can help students build a professional network. Preceptors often have a wide range of professional connections that can be beneficial for students. These connections can help students find future job opportunities or provide valuable referrals for clinical rotations. A preceptor who is respected in their field can also help students establish credibility and gain respect in the industry.

My preceptors helped me find jobs when I graduated. Since I had a good relationship with them, one of them offered me a position at the Urogynecology department where she worked when her colleague left her position. At that time, I was already employed elsewhere but it was still nice to know that I had made a good impression as a student!

REASON #3: Quality Education

Nurse practitioner preceptors play a vital role in providing quality education to students. They provide hands-on clinical training that complements the theoretical knowledge gained in the classroom. Preceptors can help students develop clinical skills, improve their patient communication, and learn about the latest healthcare advancements.

Your preceptor will help you learn to think critically on the spot. You will learn medication management skills, patient history-taking skills, and get real-life experience to complement the theory and case studies you see in the classroom. A good preceptor can enhance the overall educational experience by providing practical and applicable knowledge.

REASON #4: Positive Impact on Patient Care

A good nurse practitioner preceptor can have a positive impact on patient care. Preceptors who provide thorough training and mentorship can help students become competent and confident nurse practitioners. These students can then go on to provide high-quality, compassionate patient care. By training the next generation of nurse practitioners, preceptors can have a lasting impact on the healthcare industry.

With a good nurse practitioner as a preceptor, you will be able to watch them positively impact their patients’ lives. This can help remind you of one of the important reasons people become nurse practitioners: to have a positive impact on patient care.

REASON #5: Improved Career Opportunities

Having a good NP preceptor can improve career opportunities for students. Preceptors who are well-respected in their field can provide valuable references or even offer job opportunities to their students. A preceptor who is impressed by a student's clinical abilities and work ethic may be more likely to offer them a job or recommend them to other professionals.

Aside from being offered an actual job, many of my preceptors sent me links to job openings that they thought would be fitting for me. This was helpful because it helped me see myself as the professional I had become.


(Here are the 10 proven ways to find a good nurse practitioner preceptor on your own.)

WAY #1: Utilize Online Resources

About the Way:

One way to find an NP preceptor is to utilize online resources. Many professional organizations, such as the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, offer online directories of preceptors. Students can search these directories by specialty, location, and other criteria to find a preceptor who meets their needs.

Some healthcare facilities may have online databases or preceptor-matching programs that students can access. Inquire about online resources with your program. If they will not offer to find you a preceptor, they at the very least should be providing you with resources on how to do it yourself.

Pro Tip:

Use the search filters to narrow down your search and find a preceptor who matches your criteria.

WAY #2: Network with Peers

About the Way:

Networking with peers can also be a useful way to find a nurse practitioner preceptor. Students can ask classmates or colleagues if they know of any preceptors who may be available. You can talk to your classmates and ask if they have any recommendations or know of any preceptorship opportunities. You can also join professional organizations, attend conferences, and participate in online forums or discussion groups to connect with other nurse practitioners in your field.

By attending networking events or joining online groups, you can gain valuable insights and information about potential preceptorship opportunities.

Pro Tip:

Reach out to alumni from your nursing program who may be working as nurse practitioners and may be able to provide guidance or assistance in finding a preceptor. Boston College is constantly reaching out to me asking if I can precept students. So, if the schools are doing it, so should you!

WAY #3: Contact Healthcare Facilities

About the Way:

Another way to find a nurse practitioner preceptor is to contact healthcare facilities directly. Hospitals, clinics, and private practices may have preceptors on staff who are available to work with students. Start by researching healthcare facilities in your area and identifying those that align with your career goals and interests. You can then reach out to the facility's human resources department, clinical education department, or the department that corresponds with your field of interest to inquire about preceptorship opportunities.

Be prepared to share your resume, academic qualifications, and career goals, as well as your availability and location preferences. It's important to keep in mind that healthcare facilities may have their own preceptorship programs or may work with affiliated educational institutions to offer preceptorship opportunities.

Pro Tip:

Be persistent in your search and follow up with healthcare facilities if you don't hear back from them. The demand for preceptors is high, so you need to get your name out there and make sure you are seen!

WAY #4: Reach out to Clinical Instructors

About the Way:

Clinical instructors can also be a good resource for finding a nurse practitioner preceptor. Instructors may have connections with preceptors who are looking for students to mentor. You can start by contacting your previous clinical instructors and express your interest in finding a preceptor.

Additionally, you can reach out to instructors who teach courses related to your field of interest or who have experience in the specific area of practice they are pursuing. It's important to prepare a clear and concise message detailing your academic qualifications, career goals, and specific preceptorship needs. Be respectful of the instructor's time and availability and consider following up periodically to stay informed about any potential preceptorship opportunities.

Pro Tip:

Build a good relationship with your clinical instructor and lecturers and express your interest in finding a preceptor early on in your NP program.

WAY #5: Utilize Social Media

About the Way:

Social media platforms can also be a useful tool for finding a nurse practitioner preceptor. You can join nurse practitioner groups on Facebook or LinkedIn and ask for recommendations.

Start by creating a professional profile that highlights your academic qualifications and career goals. Use the platform's search feature to find professionals who work in your area of interest or who are affiliated with healthcare facilities that offer preceptorship opportunities. Consider reaching out to these professionals with a personalized message detailing your academic qualifications and preceptorship needs.

Pro Tip:

Every job I have ever gotten, I have gotten through someone I know. I stand by networking as one of the best ways to advertise your professional expertise. You can use this for preceptorships too. Don’t hesitate to reach out to department heads, nurse practitioners, or academic institutions directly. Use a clear and concise message (one paragraph max) to introduce yourself and what you are looking for.

WAY #6: Contact Professional Organizations

About the Way:

Professional organizations, such as the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, may also have resources for finding a nurse practitioner preceptor. These organizations often have networks of professionals who are actively involved in the field and may be able to connect students with potential preceptors.

Start by researching professional organizations that are relevant to your field of interest and career goals. Once you have identified relevant organizations, consider reaching out to them via email or phone to inquire about preceptorship opportunities.

Many organizations have resources or databases that students can access to find potential preceptors. In addition, attending conferences or networking events hosted by these organizations can provide opportunities for students to connect with professionals and discuss potential preceptorship opportunities.

Pro Tip:

Join a professional organization in your specialty to gain access to preceptor directories and other resources. It may cost money to officially join an organization, but there are often student rates.

WAY #7: Reach out to Alumni

About the Way:

Alumni from your nursing program or specialty may also be a good resource for finding a nurse practitioner preceptor.
They may have connections with healthcare facilities or professionals who can provide preceptorship opportunities. Start by researching your program or institution's alumni network and identifying individuals who work in your field of interest or who are affiliated with healthcare facilities that offer preceptorship opportunities. Consider reaching out to these individuals with a personalized message detailing your academic qualifications and preceptorship needs.

You can also ask for advice on how to find a preceptor and inquire about any resources or contacts they may be able to provide. It's important to maintain a professional and respectful tone when contacting alumni, and to acknowledge any time or effort they may contribute to your search for an NP preceptor. By leveraging your program or institution's alumni network, NP students can access a valuable resource for finding preceptorship opportunities and expanding their professional network.

Pro Tip:

Don’t over-focus on the super-experienced NPs. NPs with 2+ years of experience under their belt can be some of the best preceptors. They are early enough in their careers to not be jaded, and they are not so far away from being a student that they do not remember what it was like.

One of my NP preceptors was a new preceptor- I was her first student. Not only was she incredibly patient, kind, and a dedicated teacher, but we also had a friendly but professional relationship. It ended up being an excellent experience for both of us.

WAY #8: Contact Nurse Practitioner Programs

About the Way:

Contacting Nurse Practitioner programs can be a valuable method for finding a nurse practitioner preceptor. These programs often have established relationships with local healthcare facilities and can provide guidance on potential preceptors. Additionally, faculty members within these programs may have connections to NPs in the community who are willing to precept students.

Pro Tip:

Contact the program director or clinical coordinator directly for guidance on finding a nurse practitioner preceptor.

WAY #9: Attend Career Fairs

About the Way:

Attending career fairs can be a useful way to find a nurse practitioner preceptor. Career fairs provide an opportunity for students to interact with healthcare professionals, including NPs, and learn about their experiences and specialties.

By networking with these professionals, you may be able to find preceptorship opportunities or receive referrals to other NPs who are willing to take on students. Additionally, career fairs often have booths or tables specifically dedicated to educational institutions, which may be able to provide students with information about preceptorship opportunities or connect them with potential preceptors.

Pro Tip:

Come prepared with a resume and a clear understanding of your goals and objectives, as well as a friendly but professional attitude. Don’t wait for people to come to you! This is your time to practice your professional networking skills.

WAY #10: Volunteer at Healthcare Facilities

About the Way:

Volunteering at healthcare facilities can be an effective way to find a nurse practitioner preceptor. Volunteering provides an opportunity for you to gain hands-on experience and network with healthcare professionals, including NPs. By demonstrating your dedication and commitment to the field through volunteering, you may be able to build relationships with NPs who are willing to take on students for preceptorships.

Additionally, volunteering may provide you with opportunities to shadow or assist NPs in their daily work, allowing you to develop a better understanding of the profession and the skills required to be successful in it.

Pro Tip:

Be proactive in seeking out opportunities to shadow or work with nurse practitioners at the facility where you volunteer at. Start by building relationships with them and asking thoughtful questions about them and their careers - show a genuine interest. Once you have established rapport, you can talk to them about shadowing.


Approaching a potential NP preceptor can be daunting, but it is an important step in finding a suitable mentor. Here are the three best ways to approach a potential nurse practitioner preceptor:

WAY #1: Introduce Yourself Professionally

The first way to approach a potential nurse practitioner preceptor is to introduce yourself professionally. This can be done through an email or a phone call. Introduce yourself, explain your educational background and the reason why you are seeking a preceptorship.

Be respectful of their time and ask if they are willing to discuss the possibility of becoming your preceptor. Don’t forget to ask questions if they are open to talking to you. Ask about their teaching style and experience they have as a preceptor.

WAY #2: Attend Networking Events

Another way to approach a potential nurse practitioner preceptor is to attend networking events. This could be a conference, or an event hosted by a professional organization. When you meet a potential preceptor, introduce yourself professionally and explain your situation. Ask if you could have a brief conversation to discuss the possibility of becoming your preceptor. If you really want to make the most of your networking event, prepare a 30-second elevator pitch to quickly introduce yourself and your goals.

WAY #3: Utilize Referrals

The third way to approach a potential NP preceptor is to utilize referrals. This could be from a colleague, a professor, or someone in your professional network. When approaching a potential preceptor through a referral, be sure to mention the person who referred you and explain your situation professionally. A pro-tip for using referrals is to ask the person who referred you to reach out to the potential preceptor on your behalf to help establish a connection.


This isn’t just about finding any preceptor; you also want to make sure that you find someone with certain qualities. Having a high-quality preceptor is critical to your education. Here we will review 7 important qualities to look for when you are trying to find a nurse practitioner preceptor. From earned qualities such as experience, to more inherent qualities like a positive attitude, these will help you find what you are looking for in a preceptor.

QUALITY #1: Experience

About the Quality:

An experienced nurse practitioner preceptor is someone who has been working in the field for a significant amount of time and has a wealth of knowledge and skills to share. Experience allows preceptors to provide real-world insights and practical guidance on clinical decision-making.

Why is this Quality Important:

This quality is important because it ensures that you receive quality guidance and advice. An experienced preceptor has been working in the field for a significant amount of time, developing a wealth of knowledge and skills that they can share with you. This means they are well-versed in the latest practices and clinical guidelines and can provide real-world insights and practical guidance on clinical decision-making.

An experienced preceptor is also more likely to have encountered a wide variety of patient cases and situations, allowing them to share their experiences and insights. By learning from an experienced preceptor, you can gain a better understanding of the day-to-day realities of working as a nurse practitioner, as well as the most effective ways to diagnose and treat patients.

QUALITY #2: Communication skills

About the Quality:

Communication skills are essential for an NP preceptor (as well as anyone working in healthcare). The preceptor must be able to communicate effectively with you to ensure that you understand the concepts being taught. Good communication skills also allow preceptors to provide constructive feedback and guidance.

Why is this Quality Important:

As a student, you need clear and effective communication from your preceptor to understand the concepts being taught. Effective communication also allows the preceptor to provide constructive feedback and guidance, which is essential for your growth as a student.

Moreover, effective communication skills are important for building a positive and supportive relationship between you and your preceptor. A preceptor with strong communication skills can help you build your confidence, address your concerns, and provide constructive criticism.

This isn’t just about you though. While it’s important that your preceptor and you can communicate well, it is also essential that you see examples of effective communication between patients and providers. Effective patient communication is a quality that sets NPs apart from other providers.

QUALITY #3: Patience

About the Quality:

The last thing you want is a preceptor who is not going to be patient with you while you learn. Patience is an important quality for nurse practitioner preceptors. As a student, you may need extra time to understand complex concepts and procedures. A preceptor who is patient will take the time to explain things clearly and ensure that you fully understand the material.

Why is this Quality Important:

As a student, you are likely to make mistakes and need guidance and support from your preceptor. A patient preceptor can help you work through those mistakes, offer feedback in a constructive and supportive manner, and provide you with opportunities to grow and learn. Making mistakes is important for learning, but it is also important that you have the opportunity to do this in a safe environment for you and the patients.

Additionally, as you learn new skills and gain knowledge, a patient preceptor can provide you with the time and resources necessary to develop your competencies. A preceptor who is patient and supportive can also help reduce your stress levels, creating a more positive learning experience overall.

QUALITY #4: Dedication

About the Quality:

A dedicated preceptor is committed to helping you succeed and is willing to invest the necessary time and effort to help you achieve your goals. They will take the time to understand your learning style, strengths, and weaknesses, and tailor their teaching to your individual needs.

Why is this Quality Important:

A dedicated preceptor will also be available to answer your questions, provide guidance and feedback, and ensure that you are progressing toward your goals. They will go above and beyond to create a positive and supportive learning environment and will be committed to helping you achieve your full potential. This quality ensures that you have a supportive and engaged mentor who is invested in your success as a student and future nurse practitioner.

QUALITY #5: Flexibility

About the Quality:

You don’t need someone who is a gymnast, but flexibility is an important quality for NP preceptors. As a student, you may need to adjust your schedule or learning plan. A preceptor who is flexible can adjust their schedule and approach to accommodate your needs.

Why is this Quality Important:

This quality is important because it allows for a more personalized learning experience. As a student, you may have a variety of responsibilities, including coursework, clinical rotations, and personal obligations. A preceptor who is flexible can help you navigate these responsibilities and adjust your learning plan accordingly. They can also adapt their teaching style to meet your changing needs and adjust their schedule to accommodate your availability.

Moreover, a flexible preceptor can provide you with opportunities to explore different areas of practice and gain exposure to a variety of patient populations. A preceptor who is flexible and open to new ideas can also help you learn how to adapt to unexpected situations and think creatively to solve problems.

There were times during my NP training when I had to reschedule clinical rotations due to personal or academic reasons, and I was grateful to have this flexibility. As long as you are not taking advantage of someone’s flexibility it can be really calming and supportive to have this quality in a preceptor.

QUALITY #6: Professionalism

About the Quality:

As a student, you are looking to learn from a mentor who exhibits high levels of professionalism in their interactions with patients, colleagues, and other healthcare professionals. A preceptor who is professional will serve as an excellent role model, exhibiting ethical behavior, demonstrating respect for diversity and cultural competence, and maintaining strict adherence to professional standards and regulations.

Why is this Quality Important:

This quality is important because it ensures that you are learning from a role model who exhibits professional behavior and ethics. A preceptor who exemplifies professionalism can help you develop the skills and attitudes necessary to succeed as a nurse practitioner, preparing you to provide high-quality care to patients and contribute to the healthcare profession in a positive and meaningful way.

QUALITY #7: Positive attitude

About the Quality:

I am an adamant opposer of toxic positivity. So, the last message I want to give you is that you need to be all sunshine and rainbows all the time as an NP. That’s not realistic, or healthy. However, demonstrating a positive attitude as an NP can be a component of professionalism. When it comes to finding a nurse practitioner preceptor, look for someone who is excited to be this person for you.

A preceptor who has a positive outlook and approach to teaching can create a supportive and engaging learning environment, which can help you feel more comfortable and confident in your abilities. They encourage you to ask questions, provide constructive feedback, and offer encouragement.

Why is this Quality Important:

A preceptor with a positive attitude can help you develop a growth mindset, encouraging you to embrace challenges and learn from mistakes. Moreover, a preceptor who is enthusiastic and passionate about their work can help you gain a greater appreciation for the nursing profession, inspiring you to become an engaged and committed healthcare professional.


Finding a nurse practitioner preceptor can be a challenging task, but with these 10 proven ways to find a good nurse practitioner preceptor on your own, the process can be made easier. These methods include reaching out to professional organizations, utilizing online databases, networking, seeking recommendations from colleagues and professors, approaching healthcare facilities, and considering alternative options such as virtual preceptorships.

Additionally, when selecting an NP preceptor, it is important to consider important qualities such as experience, communication skills, patience, dedication, flexibility, professionalism, and a positive attitude. By taking the time to research potential preceptors and considering these qualities, you can ensure that you find a preceptor who is the right fit for you and who can help you succeed in your nursing education and future career.

Remember, finding an NP preceptor is an important step towards achieving your goals and advancing your nursing career, so don't hesitate to explore all the available options to find the best fit for you. Are you still wondering how to find a nurse practitioner preceptor on your own? Keep on networking and check out our frequently asked questions below!


1. Is It Mandatory To Find An NP Preceptor On My Own?

As we’ve mentioned, the answer to whether it is mandatory to find an NP preceptor on your own varies depending on the program and institution you are attending. Some programs have pre-established relationships with healthcare facilities and NPs and provide students with preceptors.

However, other programs require students to find their own preceptors. In such cases, it is not only mandatory to find an NP preceptor on your own, but it is also a critical aspect of completing the program requirements and obtaining eventual certification and licensure.

2. Can My Physician Be My NP Preceptor?

In some cases, a physician can serve as an NP preceptor, but it depends on the requirements of the specific NP program and the regulations of the state in which the student is located. Many NP programs require preceptors to be NPs or other advanced practice nurses with specific certifications and experience in the student's chosen specialty.

However, there may be instances where a physician who has experience in the student's specialty can serve as a preceptor, particularly in areas where NPs are less common. It is important to check with your NP program and the state's board of nursing to determine if a physician can serve as a preceptor and what specific requirements they must meet.

When it comes to YOUR physician, there are no defined rules specifically prohibiting this. However, it is important that you think about how working under your physician might impact your patient-provider relationship. Ultimately, you need to think of your well-being as a student and a patient and what boundaries you may need in this unique situation.

3. Is There A Shortage Of Nurse Practitioner Preceptors?

Yes, there is a shortage of nurse practitioner preceptors. This shortage is due to a variety of factors, including an increasing demand for healthcare services, a shortage of qualified healthcare professionals, and a lack of funding for nursing education programs. As more students enter nursing programs, there are simply not enough preceptors to provide them with the necessary clinical training.

This shortage is particularly acute in rural and underserved areas, where there may be fewer healthcare professionals available to serve as preceptors. To address this shortage, nursing schools and healthcare organizations are working to increase the number of preceptors available by offering incentives such as loan forgiveness programs and continuing education opportunities. Additionally, some nursing programs are exploring alternative models of clinical training, such as simulation labs and telehealth experiences, to supplement traditional preceptorships.

This shortage is also why some NP programs are requiring students to find their own preceptors. It is becoming an arduous and time-consuming task for schools, and since they are not required to do it, they are shifting the responsibility to students.

4. How Hard Is It To Find An NP Preceptor Near Me?

This really depends on where you live. Finding a nurse practitioner preceptor can be a challenging task, especially in areas where there is a high demand for preceptors. The availability of preceptors varies by location, as some areas may have more preceptors than others. You may face additional challenges in finding preceptors in areas where there are fewer healthcare facilities or where the demand for preceptors is high.

You can increase your chances of finding a preceptor by being proactive in your search. You can start by contacting your educational institution, which may have resources or connections that can help you locate a preceptor. Additionally, networking with healthcare professionals, volunteering at healthcare facilities, and attending career fairs near you can all be effective methods for finding preceptors.

5. How Much Do I Need To Pay For A Nurse Practitioner Preceptor?

Paying nurse practitioner preceptors is a hotly debated topic that brings in themes of professional duty, gender norms, education equity, and more. Historically some organizations like the AANP have alluded to paying preceptors as being unethical and going against the professional values of the NP profession. Many people and organizations believe that preceptorships should be based on a mutually beneficial relationship where both the student and preceptor benefit from the experience.

The idea that students should not have to pay for their education, and preceptors should not be paid for teaching, as it is a professional obligation, does not hold weight when you start looking at Physician Assistant preceptor pay, and medical student clerkship pay. When you consider the fact that nursing is a female-dominated field, and nursing is often stereotyped as a “female profession,” you can pick up on the element of gender inequity embedded in this topic.

Our advice is that you understand the laws around paying for a preceptor in your state and accreditation of your school. Discuss the matter with your school and have a clear and upfront conversation with potential preceptors before you make any agreements. This way you can maintain respectful and professional relationships, while not continuing to knowingly feed a system that does not pay people for their time and expertise.

Ultimately, if and how much you should pay a nurse practitioner preceptor should be decided on a case-by-case basis.

6. Typically, How Much Time Do I Need To Spend With My NP Preceptor?

The amount of time that a student needs to spend with their NP preceptor can vary depending on the requirements of their program and the specific preceptorship. Typically, students are expected to complete a set number of clinical hours, which can range from a few hundred to over a thousand hours.

These hours vary depending on what type of NP you are training to be. For example, Family Nurse Practitioners (FNPs) require 500 hours and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioners (WHNPs) require 600. These hours are typically spread out over the course of several months or even years, depending on the program.

It also depends on the degree you are getting. DNP students are required to complete more precepted clinical hours than MSN students. The amount of time that a student spends with their preceptor on a daily or weekly basis can also vary depending on the preceptor's availability and the needs of the program.

7. How Do I Deal With A Difficult NP Preceptor?

Dealing with a difficult NP preceptor can be a challenging experience for any student and is certainly not an added stressor you need or may be expecting. It's important to first try to understand the source of the difficulty. Is the preceptor demanding and pushing you to improve your skills, or are they being disrespectful and unprofessional?

If it's the former, try to approach the situation with a positive attitude and a willingness to learn. Take constructive criticism and use it to improve your skills… growth is, after all, uncomfortable. If the latter is the case, however, it may be necessary to speak up and address the issue with the preceptor or with the program coordinator. If you found the preceptor on your own, your NP program faculty should still be able to support you.

It's important to remember that preceptors are there to help students learn and grow, but that does not excuse unprofessional behavior. Above all, maintain a professional demeanor and communicate clearly with your preceptor and program coordinator to resolve any issues that may arise. Remember, this too is a learning experience. You will inevitably encounter interpersonal difficulties with people in your career. Learning how to navigate them is an acquired skill.

8. How Do I Thank My NP Preceptor After Completing My Rotation?

Thanking your NP preceptor after completing your rotation is an important part of maintaining a positive and professional relationship. There are several ways to express your gratitude, such as sending a handwritten thank-you note or email expressing your appreciation for their guidance and support.

Another option is to give a small gift, such as a box of chocolates or a gift card to their favorite restaurant. It is also important to keep in touch with your preceptor and update them on your progress, as well as share any future career or educational plans you may have.

Finally, be sure to ask if they are willing to serve as a reference in the future, as this can be a valuable asset when applying for jobs or further education. By taking the time to thank your NP preceptor, you not only show your appreciation for their hard work but also continue to build a strong professional network in the healthcare field.

9. What Are Some Good Gift Ideas For NP Preceptors?

Finding the perfect gift for an NP preceptor can be a difficult task, as you want to express your appreciation for their guidance and mentorship. A personalized mug or water bottle with their name or a meaningful message can be a useful and personalized gift. Gift cards to a coffee shop or restaurant can be a great way to treat them to a meal or snack during a busy day.

Additionally, a book or magazine subscription related to their specialty or field of interest can be a thoughtful gesture that shows you value their expertise and their interests. Finally, a handwritten thank-you note expressing your gratitude for their time and dedication can be a heartfelt way to show your appreciation. Whatever gift you choose, the most important thing is to show your preceptor that their guidance and support has made a difference in your education and career development.

Lauren Jacobson MS, RN, WHNP-BC
Lauren Jacobson is a registered nurse and women’s health nurse practitioner who is passionate about global health and gender-based violence prevention. She is Editor and an Advisory Board Member for the Global Nursing Caucus and volunteers with Physicians for Human Rights as a medical evaluator for asylum seekers.