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External Clinical Faculty

An External Clinical Faculty member is an experienced RN who provides clinical supervision of a Longwood BSN student during in the clinical segment of NURS 392- Nursing Care of Patients with Complex Health Problems (also called the externship) or NURS 492 - Transition to Professional Practice Practicum (also called the internship). Both of these courses, but especially the internship, are designed not only to teach clinical skills but also to help the student understand all aspects of the professional nursing role. Therefore, these courses have more clinical hours and the role of the External Clinical Faculty includes more responsibilities than that of the Practice-based Preceptor.

Responsibilities: Students, preceptors, and faculty must work in synchronous partnership to achieve effective learning. Therefore, the roles of each have been well defined. The Longwood faculty member responsible for the course collaborates closely with the agency and with the individual External Clinical Faculty member(s). The Longwood faculty member retains the ultimate responsibility for the student's performance, while the External Clinical Faculty member provides day by day supervision and guidance of the student in the clinical agency. The External Clinical Faculty member serves as a host, sponsor, teacher, and role model for the student. She or he guides the student in interaction with patients or clients, shares knowledge and skills, facilitates critical thinking, and evaluates the student's performance with real-time feedback and both episodic and end-of-experience written evaluation. Because of the scope of these two courses, the student follows the work schedule of the External Clinical Faculty member, observing and/or participating in all aspects of the External Clinical Faculty's RN role. The nursing student is expected to collaborate with the preceptor regarding planning and delivering care, to seek regular feedback, and to complete assignments and objectives. (For a complete description of faculty, student, and External Clinical Faculty responsibilities, click here.)

Educational requirements and preceptor qualities: The Virginia Board of Nursing requires that the External Clinical Faculty member be a Registered Nurse with expertise in the clinical practice area to which the student is assigned. Although the Longwood program is a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program, the External Clinical Faculty does not have to be BSN-prepared.


The External Clinical Faculty member must have current clinical skills and knowledge, and be able to model effective care planning and provision. He or she must be able to communicate effectively with patients/clients, with families, and with other healthcare providers. Successful teaching is a complex process that requires not only expertise in clinical content but also positive personal attributes such as empathy, warmth, respectfulness, and humor, and a desire to work with nursing students.
For more information, see FAQs for External Clinical Faculty.


Preceptor preparation: Because the clinical experiences are longer and more complex, and involve a greater level of independent supervision of students than the other clinical courses, we do require External Clinical Faculty to read the External Clinical Faculty Handbook and sign an agreement to serve as an External Clinical Faculty. This handbook includes specific information about the courses, introduction to key clinical teaching skills and approaches, and expectations. We believe we have an obligation to assist our External Clinical Faculty to learn as much as they wish about effective precepting and clinical teaching. Therefore, we have created a section of this website called Helpful Resources where External Clinical Faculty can easily and conveniently access more information about clinical teaching, learning styles, mentoring, assessing and evaluating student performance, critical thinking, reflective practice, and quick tips for preceptors. In the future we plan to offer online training modules for External Clinical Faculty to use toward professional development. 


Benefits to the host agency: We recognize that External Clinical Faculty and the host agencies for whom they work dedicate considerable time and effort to the education of nursing students, and we deeply appreciate these contributions. While there is no direct financial payment involved, these more intensive clinical experiences have benefits to the precepting nurses and the host agencies as well the students and the BSN program. Students learn not only more advanced clinical skills and improved critical thinking but also absorb a cultural understanding of professional nursing roles, relationships, and opportunities which prepares them for a smoother transition into the world of nursing practice. The precepting RNs (External Clinical Faculty) gain knowledge and expertise in clinical teaching and coaching, a better understanding of educational preparation of the next generation of nurses, and skill in evaluating clinical competency, which enhances their own practice and enriches the expertise of the agency's nursing staff. Precepting RNs may also earn credit toward clinical advancement within their own institution. The interaction of practicing nurses and nursing student learners has been shown to improve the level of evidence-based care and the adoption of best practices within the host agency, and also contributes to the satisfaction of the nursing staff. Additionally, the agency benefits from the opportunity to "get to know" and possibly recruit the soon-to-graduate students; these relationships can ease the transition of the new graduate into their first job, which benefits both the new graduate and the agency. Lastly, the collaboration of the clinical agencies with the Longwood BSN program extends the ability of the Longwood nursing faculty to educate more nursing students with broader clinical experiences, which strengthens the program immeasurably. We believe that internships and externships are a definite "win-win" for all parties.


Volunteering as an External Clinical Faculty member: We welcome Registered Nurses who are interested in volunteering to be an External Clinical Faculty member to make your interest known. If you are an RN in one of our Community Partner agencies, talk with your nurse manager or nurse director. Most External Clinical Faculty are recommended by their nurse managers, then selected collaboratively by the designated institutional liaison and the Longwood faculty.