Getting Started as a Preceptor

Once again, thank you for your willingness to precept our students. We appreciate your help and support in shaping the future of health care. Resources are provided below to assist you in your role as a preceptor and in working with students. The below topics will help to prepare you in your role as a preceptor.

Preceptor Overview

The following resources are provided to help you become better acclimated with the preceptor role at the University of Cincinnati.  

Clinical Expectations & Responsibilities

In order to maximize outcomes of the clinical practicum students, Volunteer Clinical Faculty, and course faculty have certain responsibilities that should be demonstrated during the clinical experience.  It is through the collaboration and partnership amongst all involved that student’s fine-tune their clinical skills and provide strong patient care.

  • Prepare personal learning objectives for the clinical experience that complement the course objectives.
    • Identify these objectives with measurable outcomes
    • Gain approval of these objectives from the preceptor and the faculty.
  • Demonstrate responsible professional behavior.
    • Follow the dress code, policies, and procedures of the agency.
    • Be on time for all scheduled clinical experiences.
    • Call in a timely manner if unable to attend clinical experience.
    • Avoid personal use of tablets or cell phones in the clinical setting, only accessing apps which may enhance the clinical learning experience.
  • Clinical Responsibilities:
    • Prepare for clinical experiences.
    • Maintain confidentiality of patients.
    • Perform appropriate assessments of clients.
    • Interpret data obtained from labs, diagnostic tests, and monitoring devices to trend patient condition.
    • Prepare a differential diagnosis list and present patient case to the preceptor.
    • Develop a plan of care for the patient.
    • Recognize emergency situations and make appropriate decisions regarding treatment with preceptor.
    • Perform new or advanced interventions only under the direction of the preceptor and according to agency policies.
    • Provide appropriate health teaching for patients and families specific to disease process or illness.
    • Ensure that preceptor is informed of patient condition.
    • Recommend appropriate referrals for specialty services.
    • Document patient encounters according to agency policy and identify self as a RN, NP student.  Have documentation cosigned by preceptor.
    • Communicate effectively with other members of the health care team.
  • Maintain a practicum journal which is turned in to the faculty at least three during the semester.
  • Confer with the faculty and preceptor at least twice during the semester regarding progress toward meeting clinical and course objectives.
  • Update progress toward personal learning objectives in each practicum journal using specific examples of achievement.
  • Independently seek learning opportunities in the clinical setting.
  • Communicate appropriate policies, procedures, expectations of the agency.
  • Assist the student to obtain appropriate identification required by the agency.
  • Prepare the agency/staff for the student’s arrival and role in the care of clients.
  • Be present in the clinical area when students are seeing patients.
  • Orient student to the advanced nursing practice role.
  • Review and approve student objectives for the experience.
  • Provide opportunities to assess patients.
  • Review student assessments and validate findings.
  • Cosign any documentation according to the policies of the agency.
  • Discuss the management of the client.
  • Guide the student in the performance of any intervention.
  • Guide the student in identifying ways to evaluate the plan of care.
  • Assist the student in learning the referral process and the role of the APRN in the health care team.
  • Guide the student in suggesting additional readings or other learning opportunities.
  • Confer with the faculty and the student at least twice during the semester about student progress.
  • Complete a midterm and final evaluation on the student.
  • Validate student’s time logs biweekly.
  • Notify faculty immediately of any student issues or concerns.
  • Review and adhere to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). See Student & Patient Privacy section at the bottom of this page for more information.
  • Review documents related to the clinical course (welcome letter, clinical hours requirement, syllabus, course objectives, etc.) and seek clarification from the respective faculty program coordinator.
  • Discuss with student his or her experience/background.
  • Approve student’s clinical objectives during the first week of the practicum.
  • Arrange for a contract between the clinical agency/preceptor and the University of Cincinnati College of Nursing.
  • Provide a course syllabus and a letter of introduction to the preceptor.
  • Be available for consultation from the student or preceptor.
  • Confer with the student and the preceptor at least twice during the practicum to guide students in achievement of clinical skills and course objectives.
  • Evaluate content of the clinical log and other course assignments.
  • Communicate with students regarding formative and summative evaluations.
  • Provide preceptor the evaluation tools used to assess student progress.
  • Provide final evaluation of student performance during the course.
  • Review student’s time tracking, case logs and evaluations.

Building an Effective Learning Environment

  • Consider the workspace in your office and which area might best accommodate student learning.
  • Keep in mind space in which you can freely offer feedback and address student questions that will not disturb your colleagues.
  • Consider your own clinical strengths and weaknesses and how this might affect your teaching style.
  • Consider offering the student supplemental readings or identify common disease processes the student should familiarize him/herself with to be successful in the clinical setting.
  • Discuss resources or tools the student should bring to the clinical site (e.g, text books or references that are specific to your specialty).
  • Explain to colleagues that you are working with a student and request that they consider including your student in possible learning opportunities.
  • When questions arise on behalf of the student, encourage him or her to research the answer independently and report back with the findings.

Student & Patient Privacy

Similar to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (34 C.F.R. Part 99—commonly known as FERPA) is a federal law that regulates privacy and the exchange of specific types of information. HIPAA protects patient health information from being disseminated without the patient’s knowledge and consent.  FERPA governs the release of and access to student education records. FERPA affords students certain rights with respect to their education records and dictates what UC faculty and staff may and may not share with third parties on a student's behalf. As a preceptor, you must abide by FERPA and HIPAA laws. For more information and resources, visit UC's Office of the Registrar FERPA & Records Privacy page.