A study of preceptor roles in clinical teaching.
Acknowledging the continuing use of preceptors for clinical teaching in undergraduate nursing programs, this study examined the role of preceptors, criteria for selection, and knowledge and skills they require to undertake clinical teaching in baccalaureate (BSN) programs. All National League for Nursing (NLN)-accredited BSN programs in the Midwest were surveyed (N = 142) using an instrument developed by the investigator; 84 instruments were returned, for a response rate of 59.2%. Most nursing programs (74.7%) used preceptors from affiliating clinical settings for teaching senior-year clinical courses (90.9%) such as leadership and management, community health nursing, and critical care. Across the majority of nursing programs two important responsibilities of the preceptor were selecting patients for care by students and teaching students in the clinical setting. Findings also revealed that certain responsibilities were shared by faculty and preceptors, including assessing students' learning needs and evaluating learning in the clinical settings. Although preceptors played an important role in teaching students, only half of the programs had a written position statement that described the role. Selection criteria for preceptors were educational preparation at the BSN level (75.8%) and experience as a staff nurse (59.7%). Respondents also identified the knowledge and skills required by preceptors to undertake clinical teaching and content included in preceptor-preparation programs, providing a framework for faculty to use when preparing preceptors for this important role.
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