Associate Degree Nursing Preceptor Orientation
For Preceptors and students of an ADN Program

What is a Preceptorship?

A preceptorship is a one-to-one relationship between an experienced nurse and a novice nursing student. The value of involving clinical preceptors in the teaching/learning process is that a one-to-one relationship is the most effective mechanism for clinical learning at this level of student clinical performance. The preceptorship is a time-limited relationship that provides students with experiences in the real world of nursing practice, bridging the gap between theory and reality.

The relationship between the preceptor and student, preceptor and liaison instructor and student and instructor are all necessary and valuable in order to provide the best possible clinical learning for the student. These three roles form an important triad facilitating the student's progression toward clinical learning outcomes. In order to be successful, these relationships must be grounded in mutual trust and respect, clear expectations, open communication and empowerment.

The preceptor's first responsibility is to his/her clients, and then to students. Students are responsible for their own learning and actions. Liaison instructors design, implement and evaluate learning activities for student growth through a precepted clinical experience. The liaison instructor gives the final grade for the student's clinical experience based on input from the preceptor.

Preceptorship Structure

Preceptorships are structured as an 80 hour/4 hour clinical configuration. The 80 hour portion is spent with a preceptor on a nursing unit that would hire a graduate nurse at an associate degree level. The 4 hour portion takes place within the same agency with a nurse in an advanced nursing role. The advanced nursing role has more independent functions, usually requiring advanced experience and education. The student is responsible for choosing the 4 hour clinical experience. (Consider the nurse manager, the clinical nurse specialist, or the clinical educator roles.)

Roles and Responsibilities

To achieve the best possible learning, clear definitions of the roles and responsibilities of the student, preceptor and liaison instructor must be established. Open and ongoing communication between all members of the preceptorship triad is critical for success.

Preceptor Responsibilities
Student Responsibilities
  • Provide a supportive learning environment
  • Collaborate with the liaison instructor to plan, implement and evaluate the learning experience.
  • Role model quality nursing practice.
  • Provide feedback to the student and liaison instructor.
  • Provide opportunities for observation and practice while collaborating with the student in decision making.
  • Accept responsibility for own learning. Identify and communicate own learning needs.
  • Accept responsibility for own practice within the legal, ethical and practice standards of the discipline and the agency.
  • Work collaboratively with preceptor and liaison instructor .
  • Provide feedback to preceptor and liaison instructor regarding learning progress.
Liaison Instructor Responsibilities
  • Arrange precepted clinical experiences.
  • Link students with preceptors.
  • Empower student and preceptor to achieve clinical outcomes
  • Identify clinical outcomes and evaluation mechanisms
  • Provide communication link between Moraine Park and clinical agency.
  • Provide ongoing support for preceptor and student.
  • Evaluate and grade student experience.
  • Build relationships with community agencies.


Benefits Inherent in Preceptorships
Preceptorships can be a growth experience for all members of the triad. Some benefits may be subtle and only realized after the preceptorship has been completed.

Benefits for the Preceptor
Benefits for the Student
  • Professional involvement in the teaching/learning process.
  • Validates and reinforces professional value and practice
  • Stimulates innovative and improved practice.
  • Opportunity to step back and appreciate own contribution to the profession.
  • Contributions to future health care through influencing a student's practice.
  • Opportunity to network with other preceptors within and across agencies.
  • Participate in nursing practice in a variety of settings.
  • Experience the "real world" of nursing practice.
  • Socialization into the nursing profession.
  • Gain competence and confidence.
  • Investigate employment opportunities.
  • Begin the transition from the role of student to GN
Benefits for the Liaison Instructor
  • Network with a variety of preceptors and health care agencies.
  • Opportunity to facilitate and encourage preceptor and student growth.
  • Gain an understanding of health care delivery systems in the community.
  • Build ongoing relationships with health care agencies in the community.

Phases of the Preceptor-Student Relationship
Just as any nurse-client relationship is developed through phases, so too is the preceptor-student relationship. An effective relationship is built on open communication and the development of trust. Consistency is a critical component for developing an effective preceptorship relationship, so it is expected that the same preceptor will work with the student for the duration of the preceptorship. Changing preceptors in the midst of the precepted clinical experience generally requires establishing a new relationship and loss of the trust and independence previously developed.

Beginning Phase - The student and preceptor will participate together in:

  • Orientation to the environment.
  • Understanding roles of health team members and relevant agency protocols and policies.
  • Collaborating about the specific activities that he/she will participate in.
  • Identifying learning goals and activities using the clinical map as a guide (for the primary preceptorship).
  • Observe the role of the preceptor and participate in care under supervision.

Working Phase - The student and preceptor will participate together toward socialization into the professional nurse role through:
  • Efficient use of time and resources.
  • Growth in independence, requiring less prompting from preceptor.
  • Self-confidence and empowerment through feedback and support for the student's practice and decision making.
  • Ongoing review of learning activities and achievement of learning goals.

Termination Phase - The student and preceptor will bring closure to the relationship and preceptorship through:

  • Revising the working relationship to support the independent role of the student with the preceptor available as a resource.
  • Review of achievement of learning goals.
  • Evaluate the precepted experience.
  • Summarize and validate the value of the relationship.

Thank you for agreeing to be a preceptor for a Nursing Student. We hope this will be an enjoyable and rewarding experience for both you and the student.

Revised March 12, 2012 first went online on January 21, 2000
© 2000 - 2012 All Rights Reserved Pat Hrobsky .
Web design by Richard Engel
This site last updated March 12, 2012