Preceptorship, 1st installment
What is a preceptor? The preceptor is a teacher, advisor, mentor and role model. They are truly the introduction to the real-world of whichever profession the student is entering. As a preceptor, what you teach, and how you teach it, affects how and what the student learns. To many, it is a professional responsibility, and an honor to accept the post of preceptor. You are teaching the next generation of your profession which is a tremendous responsibility. You are teaching a future colleague.
Orientation to Your Practice
For this commentary, I will use the word practice to describe a private practice, group practice, hospital department, etc. Orientation to your practice is one of the most important "to-do" items. The student needs to understand the how's, why's and who's, in order to negotiate your practice. The staff members are in many cases the people who run the day-to-day, and the people who are going to pounce on the student if they don't follow procedure.
With this in mind, the first thing they should do is spend a morning with the staff to understand scheduling, staffing, procedures, office politics, who does what and why, and so on. This is as important to the success of the student as anything else. If they don't understand their environment, they are starting at a disadvantage. So use your staff as the first line of instruction.
But, before you do any of this, consider placing a sign in the lobby of your department or practice stating;
To Our Patients As clinical teaching faculty for the College of Health Science, we are pleased to participate in the SUPERVISED CLINICAL EXPERIENCE OF OUR STUDENT DOCTORS OF AUDIOLOGY. Thank you for your support of this program and Please Welcome Christine Jones, Student Au.D. Brian Doe, Student Au.D.
Of course, you would modify it for your facility and profession. This will not only inform your patients that you have students, it will also tell your patients that students are important and will give the students themselves the same message.
Following orientation to the practice, sit down with the student for a discussion about their background, interests, goals and plans. The next step is to be specific. Ask the student, "What do you want to learn?" Next, let the student know, "This is what I expect you to know by the end of the rotation."
This is the beginning of the learning contract which I will discuss in detail in the next installment.
Nehrenz G. Preceptorship, 1st installment. The Internet Journal of Allied Health Sciences and Practice. 2006 Jul 01;4(3), Article 2.