Nine Tips to Finding a Clinical Preceptor

Nurse learning from her clinical preceptor
Nurse learning from her clinical preceptor

As a Spring Arbor University online RN-MSN/NP or online FNP program student, you have the opportunity to secure your own clinical preceptor in your hometown – no travel required! Clinical preceptors provide personal teaching opportunities that are critical to your preparation, but it takes a bit of research and legwork to find a good match. Here are nine tips to help guide you on your journey to securing your clinical preceptor.


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Tips for finding a clinical preceptor

  1. Start looking early. Securing a clinical preceptor will take time. We advise you start looking in your first few months of your program.
  2. Contact the SAU Online program director for a list of medical providers in your area who have volunteered to host SAU Online nursing students.
  3. Call on fellow SAU students and graduates. Current and former SAU nursing students will be more than happy to recommend preceptors they feel will provide a good clinical experience.
  4. Ask your friends and family. Chances are, those close to you will know a few NP’s and and physicians who would make great preceptors. Ask them for personal recommendations.
  5. Consider your doctor. If you’re close with a particular physician, chances are he or she will be happy to become your preceptor. All you need to do is ask. For information on how to do so, see below.
  6. Look up doctors in your area. If you don’t have a particular nurse practitioner or physician in mind, search online for professionals in your area to call upon.
  7. Search preceptor websites. and NPFinder have multiple postings from physicians and NPs looking to train nurse practitioner students.
  8. Check with your State Board of Nursing to see if there are any NP groups in your state.
  9. Be prepared for rejection. Health care professionals are busy. Don’t take it personally if you are rejected. Thank them, and then ask if they can recommend a health care professional who would consider being your preceptor.

Qualities to look for in a clinical preceptor

According to American Nurse Today, “the goal of the preceptor is to provide valuable teaching and learning experiences and to role model safe patient care using evidence-based practice.” To do so successfully, we advise the preceptor to be:

  • Empathetic
  • Clinically competent
  • Enthusiastic
  • Respectful
  • Confident
  • Flexible
  • Fair
  • Dependable
  • Consistent
  • Good interpersonal skills
  • Passionate about nursing

How to ask someone to be your preceptor

Call early in the morning and ask to speak to the nurse practitioner or physician who has been recommended to you. Let them know that they have been recommended as an excellent preceptor and that you’re a student in need. Mention that you’re from their area; then, offer to stop by to speak with them in person about your program and needs. The ideal relationship with your clinical preceptor will be mutually beneficial, even if it takes a bit of time to secure one. Precepting keeps professionals sharp and up-to-date with the latest evidence-based research. It also enhances the preceptors professional reputation, and it assures continued excellence in the profession.

Learn more about choosing a preceptor on the Frequently Asked Nursing School Questions page.


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