PreceptorLink was born from necessity. Nurse practitioner students like you have struggled to find preceptors for years. As clinics require NPs, PAs, and physicians to see more patients in a day, we’ve witnessed the availability of preceptors decline. Paying preceptors an honorarium for their time fills the gap for students who can’t find a preceptor, however, we never intended for it to be your first stop. Before you give us a call, check out these five ways to find a preceptor without paying. (Hint: #1 is a little-known secret that will widen your opportunities immensely.)
#1 Compact State
Thirty-nine states participate in the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) that allows RNs with a license in one of those states a reciprocal license in the other participating states. If you cannot find a preceptor in your state where you are licensed, you are legally able to cross state lines to take a preceptor if both states are part of the NLC. This opportunity opens many doors, especially for NP students looking for psych preceptors where telepsych is accepted.
As you search for preceptors, consider areas where you have relatives who might allow you to stay with them during your rotation. You may also weigh the pros and cons of staying in a hotel for the duration of your rotation if you find a preceptor out of town.
If your state is not an NLC state, it might be worth checking into getting a license in an NLC state so you have the option of finding preceptors beyond your state’s borders.
(This applies only to your RN license, not your APRN, and you should always check with your state board to confirm compact state status.)
#2 Be Prepared
Take a minute before you start your preceptor search to inventory your professional persona. Finding a preceptor is increasingly competitive. You’ll improve your chances dramatically by polishing your resume to ensure it highlights your nursing experience and background. Start with the most recent NP rotation experience, but also include your RN experience where relevant.
While you’re updating your resume, scroll through your LinkedIn and Facebook accounts. Your LinkedIn account should include the same or similar information as your resume. As you view your Facebook account consider how posts you’ve written or shared might be viewed by prospective preceptors. Many times preceptors will review a candidate’s social media for a idea of their personality and fit.
#3 Your Network
Remember the old saying it’s not what you know but who you know? When it comes to finding an NP preceptor, who you know makes a big difference. Your instructors, co-workers, family members, and friends all offer potential connections to NPs, PAs, and physicians who could be willing to act as your preceptor. Ask everyone you know.
You widen your network by joining your state association for nurses and nurse practitioners along with national associations. Start with the general nurse practitioner associations, then widen your net to include associations for the specialty with which you need a preceptor. Some of these associations have opportunities for you to announce your needs to their members. And now that associations are conducting in-person meetings again, you have opportunities to meet potential preceptors face-to-face.
#4 Social Media Resources
Right behind your network, your Facebook and LinkedIn profiles have the potential to be your second greatest asset. Use the platforms to connect with nurse practitioners, NP groups, and nursing organizations. Some NP groups on both LinkedIn and Facebook allow you to announce your need for a preceptor. Other groups have the sole focus of connecting students with available preceptors for free.
Use social media to research prospective preceptors to find who you may know in common and ask for an introduction. Or reach out through private messaging on a clinic’s social media page. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, NP students routinely hit the pavement going clinic to clinic seeking out preceptors. With an influx of patients and concern for safety, this method has been discouraged over the last two years making finding preceptors that much more difficult. Social media can help fill the gap.
#5 Online Ads
Online ads with Indeed and LinkedIn offer additional digital sources for finding your next preceptor. While online ads aren’t free, you’ll pay for the ads versus paying a preceptor which is typically less expensive. Do some research on the best way to word your ads and how to target those ads to reach your top prospects.
Finding a preceptor can turn into a full-time job in some areas where competition is high and preceptors are less plentiful. If you’re struggling to find the right preceptor for your upcoming rotation, check out our list. We work with thousands of preceptors all across the United States. If you don’t see the rotation you need, reach out to us. We have new preceptors joining us every day.
As a longtime NP with a desire to help and make positive changes to her beloved profession, Lynn often writes opinion pieces about the NP profession.
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