Graduate Preceptors

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Thank you for your willingness to precept a UNC–CH School of Nursing graduate student and welcome to the Graduate Preceptors’ Corner. We hope this site will be helpful in providing an overview of the clinical needs for our MSN programs and answer questions common to our community preceptors.

For those who are considering whether to precept, we would love to have you. You will get satisfaction from helping the next generation of clinicians, the challenge of working with energetic learners, hours that can be used toward continuing education/recertification/licensure, electronic access to the AHEC Digital Library and UNC Health Sciences Library resources (including UpToDate), and appreciation from all. Some of our clinical courses qualify for AHEC payment to community preceptors. Our graduate clinical site coordinator would love to talk with you about this opportunity.

The current advanced practice areas in the MSN program include adult/gerontology nurse practitioner, health care systems, pediatric nurse practitioner/primary care, family nurse practitioner, psychiatric-mental health nursing clinical nurse specialist/nurse practitioner, and women’s health nurse practitioner. In the nurse practitioner options, students complete a minimum of 500 clinical hours with a preceptor. The majority of clinical settings for nurse practitioner students are in primary care but may include outpatient specialty settings.

For information pertinent about our graduate practice problems, click here.


How are clinical placements arranged?
Typically, the graduate clinical site coordinator contacts sites/preceptors to request a clinical placement. Less often, it might be a student or course coordinator making the initial contact. After a clinician has agreed to precept, the school’s contracts administrator will work with the clinic, arranging all of the administrative details, including contracts and Health and Safety requirements.

What is expected of a preceptor?
To provide our students the opportunities to obtain real-life, hands-on primary care experiences while providing guidance and clinical expertise. We also expect preceptors to let us know when they have any questions or concerns. Preceptors can include MDs, NPs, CNMs or DOs. While students may work with more than one clinician; in general, students should be paired with a primary preceptor who can monitor the student’s progress over the course of the semester.

What is the time commitment?
Most clinical courses consist of 120 hours over a 15 week semester. For example, in the fall semester a student will need to be with the preceptor for 8 hours/week for 15 weeks. There is flexibility in the students’ schedules; this allows the preceptor to identify preferred days and/or days of the week that he/she is unavailable.

What should I expect from the NP student?
The course coordinator will provide information on course specific expectations. In general, before a student’s first clinical placement, he/she has had an opportunity in the classroom and lab to learn advanced comprehensive assessment and diagnostic reasoning skills and knowledge and skills in prevention and management of common health issues. In order for the student to practice these skills in the clinical setting, the student should quickly begin working with patients on his/her own. When you assign patients to students, first ascertain to your satisfaction the student’s level of clinical performance relative to the demands of your practice. The student is always expected to confirm all findings, diagnoses and treatment plans with you before the patient leaves your office or facility.

Will I have contact with any faculty during the student’s clinical rotation?
Prior to the start of the clinical rotation, the course coordinator will provide you with the course objectives. For each clinical course, a student is assigned a clinical faculty. The faculty will make at least one site visit. The goals of this site visit are to follow the student in his/her clinical activities and, with patient permission, observe the student providing care for one or more patients. During a visit faculty do not provide any care or act as a provider in any manner. The faculty will meet with the preceptor and student to discuss the student’s progress in clinical and identify any areas where the student may need help or guidance. Please know that faculty are available to assist you with any student questions that arise about the NP program or the student. Feel free to contact the graduate clinical site coordinator, the course coordinator or the student’s clinical faculty with any questions and concerns.

How are students evaluated during their clinical rotation?
In addition to the evaluation of the clinical faculty at the site visit, preceptors have on-going opportunities for informal assessment of student performance. In addition to this on-going assessment, the preceptor will provide a formal assessment at mid-point and at the semester’s end. Final assessment includes written evaluation on a course-provided document.

Are there any tangible benefits for precepting?
While the School of Nursing does not provide monetary payment to preceptors, the NC Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) program is able to provide preceptor payment to community providers for certain approved courses. Other tangible benefits include documentation of precepted hours to use towards recertification and license renewal and electronic access to the AHEC Digital Library and UNC Health Sciences Library resources (including UpToDate).


Here are some excellent resources to help you make the most of the precepting experience:

Preceptor Tool Kit (Primarily focused on BSN precepting, but much of it has relevance for precepting at any level)

Mastering the Preceptor Role: Challenges of Clinical Teaching– How to be an effective teacher while maintaining a busy clinical practice.

Teaching Strategies Used by Expert Nurse Practitioner Preceptors: A Qualitative Study

Helping Preceptors Mentor the Next Generation of Nurse PractitionersDefining the preceptor relationship, role functions, responsibilities and clinical teaching strategies.

The One-Minute Preceptor: Shaping the Teaching ConversationWell known teaching model that is brief, easy to learn and effective for the preceptor and student.

Cultural Competency Continuing Education ProgramTo help health care providers improve the quality of health care services to diverse patient populations, the Office of Minority Health offers free on-line classes with CE credits for NPs, Physicians and PAs.