First of all, you deserve congratulations for deciding to continue your nursing education and tackle a much-needed position in the medical field. Go you! No matter where you are in the course of this step, you probably already know that how to find a preceptor can be a tough task—and that’s already on top of the tough tasks you have in your course assignments!
It can all be just a bit overwhelming. But having been there, I wanted to give you some helpful tips to make sure that you are as successful as I was in finding a preceptor. Here are a few steps that can help alleviate or assist you in finding that special mentor.
1. Have your resume/CV updated and always on hand.
You might know how amazing you are, but how are future preceptors or even employers going to know? No one else is going to toot your horn, you’re going to need to help yourself. Crafting a killer resume is the perfect way to do it. A few resources you might want to go is Creative Market and Fiverr. These provide options either for templates or resume/CV assistance.
A great resume will help potential preceptors identify your objectives and find out your skills and experience. This information will help you how to find a preceptor and them see whether you are a good match! If you are updating your old resume, it is good to ask for another set of eyes to look over it. Additionally, you can use Grammarly as an in a text editor for your work.
It’s a good idea to always have your resume updated and on-hand. You never know when an opportunity may arise—even at an unexpected moment—and you would never want to be unprepared and possibly miss out on an excellent opportunity.
Related: See this post on Grammarly
2. Start looking early for a preceptor
Finding a preceptor takes time and when you’re in the middle of schooling and work, that is one thing you are short on. So even if only in your first semester or heck, if you haven’t even started your program yet, one thing is true—it’s never too early to start looking. There are definite advantages to getting an early jump on things. The first is that It gives you time to gather important information (types of clinical sites, number of hours needed, time you have to complete your hours, etc.) so that you can make an informed decision without rushing because time is running out.
The second consideration is that there are limited positions but many, including those in your own program, are going to be looking—and they will probably be looking at the same facilities you are. Starting early gives you a leg up on the competition.
3. Network, Network, Network
We’re talking peers, providers, professional contacts, academic contacts, and even friends. The more you get the word out there, the more likely you are to have success. In fact, some information has shown that students who use personal contacts are more likely to find a preceptor within a reasonable time.
The most logical place to start is the place you are currently working or an associated facility—you’ve already built up a good reputation and colleagues are most likely going to want to help you to succeed if they can. If there is no one available, ask for recommendations from professional contacts whether you work with them or they are in another facility. This could even include your own personal doctor. Asking never hurts—don’t be afraid to spread out and try.
4. Cold call or walk into a practice and speak with the office manager
I know this can seem somewhat scary! But being highly proactive ups your chances of success. Starting with smaller clinics might not only be less intimidating, but they are more likely to be receptive to acting as preceptor to a student.
Now here’s where having that updated resume or CV on hand is going to really benefit you. After you introduce yourself to the office manager and state your purpose, hand them your resume. It can tell them more about you or help them remember your conversation even after you leave. Even though you want them to get to know how great you are, it’s important to show interest in the facility you are applying to.
Walking into a facility in person is the better way to go, but it might not always be practical timewise. If you can’t go in person, you can still cold call facilities. Letting them know you are from the area and why you are calling.
You may have to leave a message for the nurse practitioner or doctor. Albeit it may seem like they are taking forever or will never call you back. Fight against getting discouraged! Having to call four or more times is pretty standard. So don’t take it personally or give up if you don’t hear back right away. If you find that leaving messages isn’t getting a response, you can ask for an email address to increase your chances of a reply.
5. Join a state association, attend conferences.
There are so many resources available for those who join and attend. You’ll get tons of helpful info on tactics, characteristics of preceptors and learn best practices. Information on how to develop resources and skills, highlights, tips, and reasonable expectations are there too.
Besides getting much needed useful information, you ’ll be opening yourself up to a much wider network of people. You’ll be able to cast a wide net that can catch you some very helpful connections.
Here’s an update regarding student’s finding preceptors.