I’m reading the above article which bemoans the quality of NPs being churned out by mediocre or poorer quality schools. It further implies that schools requiring students to set up their own preceptorships feeds this inequality. This is especially pertinent to me as a family nurse practitioner student. Graduate work is hard, and I grant that as difficult and stressful as arranging my own clinical oversight was, I think it was a good thing. Hear me out:
- I treated that process as a job interview. I did my research. I dressed up as if I were being assessed among a variety of peers and potential job candidates and carried myself as a top-tier contender. As I drove all over two counties (very large area, too), I kept myself positive and had my stack of folders with my cover letter outlining my course requirements and clinical objectives, my resume, and my student business card [created very inexpensively with an online company]. This portfolio was given to all sites I visited, even if they turned me down right away.
2. I learned how to gracefully accept rejection and to understand that it’s them, it’s not me. There is a paucity of providers in the area to mentor the glut of NP students currently. I’m not even in a large market. Many are in organizations which espouse a culture of no students, no way, no how. Some have willing preceptors, but the organization cannot or is not able to take on students. Some of the reasons given included a) we already are booked with students, b) we have a contract with XYZ school and cannot use their slots for someone else, c) we have a new EMR and the training will slow us down—therefore we cannot devote appropriate time to you, d) I don’t know your school, afraid to branch out [in so many words], e) it’s too far in advance to tell/it’s too soon to work you in, and f)I can’t do that many hours, and any number of other reasons.
My response to those were, “I understand, I appreciate your time. May I leave my information in case anything changes?” Only one flatly refused my pretty purple portfolio. (It stood out without being gauche.) To the criticism that one preceptor couldn’t do my full requisite hour-load, I offered the opportunity to give me what they could. Meanwhile, others were seeing what they could do. That’s how I obtained three different providers for my pediatric rotation. I felt that was both a blessing and a disadvantage at times.
3. I took the opportunity to network with my soon-to-be peers. Establish yourself with a local organization of advanced practice nurses. I was in full wonderment with these titans of our industry. Well, maybe that’s hyperbole, but I was in awe to be near those with whom I’d be in the ranks. What assured me that this was the right decision is that at the very first meeting they asked us each to say our names and affiliation. Many are practicing or retired advanced practice nurses. At that particular meeting, I was the first of many students to introduce herself/himself as such. Surprisingly, I received applause. Wow! I’m valued as an upcoming generation of NPs! Then after we finished the introductions, the facilitator of the meeting implored that currently practicing providers mentor these students. This has been the case at every meeting since. It did pan out for me. I was able to finally achieve my women’s health rotation through this dogged approach. I plan to continue my attendance and have already paid (albeit prematurely) for membership. And yes, I took my portfolios to these dinner meetings.
What have these steps taught me? Determination, perseverance, resilience, and patience. Oh, I did quite a bit of praying, too. Would I have rather had my work done for me? Well, it would have been so much easier, but I had some say in who I selected. That goes along way with setting the quality meter. How does an online school measure quality in a preceptor? This is a bit tricky, and I’m sure part of the debate as to why this methodology is contentious.
I welcome any comments and hope to spark meaningful discourse. Cogent comments appreciated!