In Chamberlain’s MSN-Family Nurse Practitioner specialty track, the curriculum and robust practicum experiences prepare you to be a well-rounded family nurse practitioner (FNP).
FNP students who excel in the program have identified their practicum site early on using the tips below:
1. Understand the requirements
The practicum experience is designed to expose you to diverse patient populations from birth through end of life and provide hands-on experience by assessing, diagnosing and treating a variety of conditions. Later in your career, you may decide to specialize. However, all FNPs start the same way: in family practice.
A family practice site is required for the first two practicum courses and preferred for all courses. Other types of sites may be considered for NR 602, 603 and 661. View the MSN-FNP Practicum Handbook to understand all the requirements for a potential practicum site, as well as the credentials required of your preceptor.
2. Work your network
You may find a practicum site through professional networking, cold calls, a face-to-face visit or even your family healthcare provider.
While there are many ways to find a preceptor, the best option is to begin with a preceptor or site currently in your network. This might include your current place of work or an affiliate facility, a physician or FNP you know, your own family physician or a recommendation from professional contacts.
Work to deliberately grow your professional network through events at work, professional associations or even family functions. Let everyone know that you are an FNP student actively seeking a preceptor for your practicums. Don’t be shy – you never know who might be able to help!
3. Look online – and be flexible!
If you find yourself needing to look beyond your personal network, consider looking for a practice actively seeking to employ FNPs in their office through job boards in your area and online. These locations may love to have a student that could be a potential candidate they can “test out” before hiring.
In addition, search your own health insurance site’s physician finder or the American Association of Nurse Practitioner’s “Find a Nurse Practitioner” site.
Your geographical area may be saturated with other students making the same requests right now. If that’s the case, you may need to look beyond the geographical range you were hoping for to find a site. Broaden your search using the same methods.
4. Have a strategic outreach plan
As you might imagine, you’re likely not the only student contacting your desired practicum site with the large number of FNP, physician assistant and MD/DO programs. Some practices may be receiving multiple calls per day with requests for preceptors.
To make yourself stand out, you will need to show the site that you are driven and professional. Treat your search with the same – or even more – professionalism as a job search. Leave detailed messages and make an appointment if at all possible.
Typically, students who make a face-to-face visit have a much higher likelihood of success in securing a practicum site.
5. Find a back-up site
It’s always a good idea to identify a back-up site in case your first choice doesn’t work out.
Even if the potential preceptor you approach can’t precept you, chances are they may know someone who can. Ask for a referral from them – the worst thing that could happen is they say no.
6. Know we are here to support you!
We’re here to support you every step of the way at Chamberlain.
If you follow these guidelines and are still unsuccessful, send a note to your practicum coordinator and request an appointment to discuss. Tell them all the sites you have reached out to and the methods you’ve used.
Have more questions about practicum requirements? Email us at FNPpracticum@chamberlain.edu.
By Lauren Pope
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