As the educational coordinator for a rural healthcare system, part of my job was to place students (EMT, CNA, LPN, RN, and NP) with preceptors. While it was certainly challenging at times, we never turned students away for lack of a preceptor. The organization as a whole valued education and mentoring students was recognized during annual evaluations, as well as with a special annual luncheon. No monies were available in the budget to financially reward the preceptors. When I felt the need to return to direct patient care and began pursuing my post-masters NP certification I quickly lined up my preceptors. Just as I was to begin the clinical portions, I had to move across country to care for mom. I was not worried in the least about finding a preceptor, I had a few contacts, 20 years experience in the ER, and the Phoenix area is such a larger region that surely there would be plenty of willing preceptors.
I dressed professionally and went door to door with my resume and clinical needs. I made phone calls daily. I begged and pleaded, emphasizing what I could offer the practice in exchange for their efforts. I used social media networking, only to see hundreds of others with the same pleas all over the country. I was able to complete 2 clinicals at an urgent care. I gained lots of experience and contacts, both from the staff and other students, so my hope was renewed that placements would come eaiser. A few places had established contracts and were unable to take students from other programs, others had a wait list of 2 to 3 years, and many stated they didn’t have time to work with students. Finally, I found a site for the 3rd clinical, but when I arrived on day one I was told I wasn’t to talk to or touch the patients, I was not allowed to chart, my role “was to stand in the corner, look pretty, and observe.” I knew I would not learn anything more than what NOT TO DO, I have never seen such disrespect both in front of the patient and in private. There was not a day 2 at that site. At that point I decided to report this site to my school and resign from their program. I am very sad to say that this site remains on the list of their suggested sites for clinical experience in Arizona.
When I initially enrolled in the post-masters program, I was scheduled to graduate in Nov of 2015. Now that I moved to a DNP program, my graduation will be May of 2019. Some courses transferred and others must be repeated, but I am grateful for the additional clinical experience. How many great NPs are we losing because they are worn out from the fight before they even get into the ring?