Earlier this year a student contacted us for assistance in finding a preceptor for her spring clinical rotation. As with every student, we’re excited to help! She described her fantastic preceptor from her current rotation and mentioned this NP had agreed to precept her again if needed.
Many of our students use the same preceptor for multiple rotations, especially in areas where preceptors are not as plentiful. But what are the advantages and disadvantages to this strategy?
Why Work Under the Same Preceptor?
Relationships take time. Unfortunately, many clinical rotations seem to end about the time you and your preceptor find a steady rhythm. You know how to best present a patient to the preceptor. Your preceptor knows which cases will challenge you. By returning to a previous preceptor with whom you’ve worked well in the past, you have an opportunity to build on that relationship and grow your skills without the awkward adjustment period. At this point, you should be more of a benefit to your preceptor too.
If you think you might want to work in the clinic with your preceptor, and your preceptor is considering hiring a new graduate, these hours working together could lead seamlessly into your first NP position. Even if your preceptor isn’t sure they are ready to add another provider when you start, they might find you an indispensable part of the clinic with whom patients are already comfortable.
Why Choose a Different Preceptor?
Every clinic and hospital department has a different culture. While you may find yourself comfortable within the culture of your current preceptor, you may be missing out on an opportunity that offers more variety and valuable learning experiences. By branching out to multiple preceptors, you learn to be flexible in working with different types of mentors and office staff. You will have an opportunity to see different patient management styles, charting systems, and practice styles.
Working with a variety of patient types will definitely help you in the long run. For example, in your current rotation, you may see mostly geriatric patients, which means you have little experience in pediatrics or women’s health. By choosing a different setting that treats more of these other categories of patients you widen your experience which benefits all your patients and your career.
Plus, every preceptor has a different leadership style. As a provider, you’re a leader in the clinic. Observing how various providers treat and relate to other staff members helps you formulate your own leadership style. You’ll learn what works and what doesn’t from multiple perspectives.
Choosing your preceptor or being matched to a preceptor is a big deal for your future career and your patients’ care. Staying with the same preceptor may be a good idea, especially if you hope to transition into a position there. After all, you are already “tested” and partially oriented! However, we also encourage students to branch out and not remain with the same preceptor for every rotation.
A healthy mix of both new and known preceptors builds your skills and your career.
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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