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FAQ Practiced-Based Preceptors

What is a Practice-based Preceptor?

A Practice-based Preceptor is an experienced RN from a Longwood community
partner agency who works with a Longwood BSN student for a designated number of hours to complete a short clinical learning experience.

Are there specific educational requirements to be a Practice-based Preceptor?

The Virginia Board of Nursing requires that a preceptor be a Registered Nurse, with an active license in the Commonwealth of Virginia and appropriate clinical expertise. Although the Longwood program is a Bachelor of Science in Nursing program (BSN), the preceptor does not have to be a BSN.

What are the responsibilities of a Practice-based Preceptor?

The Practice-based Preceptor serves as a host, sponsor, teacher, and role model for the nursing student while the student is in the agency and caring for the patients/clients. She or he orients the student to the agency/unit, provides real-time oversight of the student, facilitates critical thinking regarding planning and implementing care, and intervenes (as appropriate) to assist the student to manage patient care situations. See Responsibilities Chart

What are the responsibilities of the Longwood faculty member(s)?

The Longwood faculty member retains overall responsibility for the supervision, guidance, and evaluation of the student's learning experiences. The faculty member provides the information needed by the agency/ Practice-based Preceptor to know what the student needs to learn and which clinical experiences are appropriate to achieve the learning objectives. For more details, see Responsibilities Chart.

What are the responsibilities of the Longwood nursing students?

Longwood nursing students are active participants in their own clinical learning. Each student knows his or her learning objectives, discusses the plan of care with the Practice-based Preceptor, seeks regular feedback from the preceptor, and helps evaluate his or her own performance. For more details, see Responsibilities Chart.

How much time does it take?

The clinical experiences that a Practice-based Preceptor oversees are typically short, usually counted in hours and not more than one to two days per student.

Where do these experiences happen?

The experiences typically take place in the agency or organization where the Practice-based Preceptor works.

Do I have to have the permission of my nurse manager to participate?

Yes. Most Practice-based Preceptors are selected collaboratively by the Longwood nursing faculty member and the designated institutional liaison to the Longwood BSN program. The liaison may be a nurse manager, nurse educator, or other nursing leader in the unit or agency where the clinical experience occurs. Together the institutional liaison and the faculty member select the most appropriate Practice-based Preceptor and patient/client for the nursing student. If you think you are interested in being a Practice-based Preceptor, be sure to talk with your nurse manager.

Are there special training sessions I need to take or do to be a Practice-based Preceptor?

Because the clinical experiences are typically short, Longwood does not require a Practice-based Preceptor to complete specific training to precept students. We do, however, look for RN preceptors with good clinical skills and experience, and that includes good communication skills. We also provide on-line access to Helpful Resources regarding a broad set of precepting skills, and we encourage all Practice-based Preceptors to take time to access them.

How will I know what the student is supposed to do?

The Longwood faculty member who is responsible for the course the student is taking will provide course information and learning objectives for the student's experience. The faculty member also will discuss the kinds of experiences the student needs, and the level of knowledge and skills of the student.

Do I have to evaluate the student's performance? I don't want to be the person deciding his or her grade!

Your clinical evaluation is necessary and important. You will be given a short, focused evaluation form to complete at the end of the student experience. The Longwood faculty uses your clinical evaluation together with other measures to determine the student's course grade. Clinical site visits by the Longwood faculty serve to validate both satisfactory and unsatisfactory performance. If you are concerned about any student, you must contact the Longwood faculty.

How will I give feedback to the Longwood faculty?

You will have opportunity to provide written feedback via the evaluation form, and also to talk directly with the Longwood faculty as needed. You will always know how to reach the Longwood faculty while you are with the student.

What if I have a student who is difficult to talk to or doesn't accept feedback or seems defensive?

Set boundaries with the student, such as requesting that the student listen to your feedback completely before responding. Use the objectives for the student's clinical learning, and provide clear examples and explanations. If you are still experiencing difficulty, it is time to communicate with the Longwood faculty.

What if I think the student is unsafe?

Although quite uncommon, it is possible that you might encounter a student whom you believe is clinically unsafe or is performing in an unsatisfactory manner. For the Practice-based Preceptor, this is a stressful situation. If you are concerned that a student is engaging in unsafe behavior, you will intercede and stop the behavior, and then immediately contact the Longwood faculty.

What if the student asks questions about nursing that I don't know how to answer?

Honesty is always best, and no one has all the answers. If you don't know but need to find out, your seeking the answer will model for the student how a professional nurse investigates and utilizes knowledge resources. If appropriate to the situation, you also might ask the student to seek the answer and discuss it with you.

Is there a salary/payment for being a Practice-based Preceptor?

No, Practice-based Preceptors are not paid for precepting students. It is generally considered a responsibility of a professional to contribute in some way to the preparation of the next generation of professionals. Some hospitals and other healthcare agencies recognize that RNs who precept nursing students develop valuable skills in clinical teaching and supervision that can be used with new agency staff, and the agency may reward staff who serve as preceptors with acknowledgement on the clinical progression system or points toward the annual performance evaluation.

We recognize that as preceptors, you do dedicate both time and effort, and we do appreciate the valuable service you provide to our students and to the BSN program.

How can I learn more about precepting skills?

We hope that you are interested in learning more about being an effective preceptor. To support such increased learning, we provide both a listing of current readings on clinical teaching and learning, and other specific educational materials on the Helpful Resources page.

I have read all the information about being a Practice-based Preceptor and I would like to do it! How do I volunteer?

Since most Practice-based Preceptors are selected collaboratively by their nurse manager and the Longwood faculty member, the best way to make your interest known is to talk with your nurse manager or nurse director. Tell her or him that you are interested in precepting a nursing student, whether you have any previous precepting experiences, and what specific clinical expertise you believe would make you a good Practice-based Preceptor.

Thank you for considering being a Practice-based Preceptor and sharing your expertise with the next generation of professional nurses!