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Find out if the clinical preceptor role is for you

April Bigelow, RN

Clinical nurse preceptors are trained to perform a dual role as clinician and teacher. They work one-on-one in a clinical setting with new nurses or nurses learning a specialty.

April Bigelow, PhD, ANP-BC, AGPCNP-BC, RN, is a clinical assistant professor at University of Michigan School of Nursing in Ann Arbor, and preceptor for nurses studying to become nurse practitioners. She listed some of the pros and cons:


You get to share your knowledge and passion with the next generation, some of whom may become your colleagues.

Preceptors can teach the gray areas from personal experience to add to the black-and-white students may learn from textbooks in nursing school.

Students who are studying the latest research, articles and guidelines and talking with current experts bring new ideas to preceptors. Also, teaching others refreshes your own expertise.

A preceptor can become a lifelong mentor if the chemistry is right. “It’s not something you can predict,” Bigelow said. “It’s organic when it happens.”

It’s a chance to teach for nurses who don’t think they could teach a class. “Nurses do so much education with our patients and our families that it’s really just a natural fit to be a preceptor,” she said.


Not all preceptors are compensated for taking on the extra role. Bigelow said she’s never been paid more for precepting, but that’s not important to her. “From my point of view, it’s [part of] my professional, ethical role,” she said.

Taking time to teach a student can slow productivity, at least at first. If you bill per patient visit, that can affect reimbursement. But with experience, the students may eventually help you see more patients, Bigelow said.

Because you are working one-on-one, if your personalities aren’t well-matched the friction can be uncomfortable. At Michigan, preceptors have the option to find a better match for a student.

For more on clinical preceptors, visit

By | 2020-04-15T09:28:20-04:00 February 3rd, 2015|Categories: National|0 Comments

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