A Guide to Preceptorships for NPs

A mix between school and work, NP preceptorships are a critical step for many NP students and recent NP graduates when transitioning to full-time practice. 

Preceptorships combine didactic learning and hands-on experiences with mentors (preceptors) guiding and supporting NP students and recent NP graduates through clinical rounds. Preceptorships are particularly useful for NP students and NPs transitioning into a new specialty area. They are almost always required to complete an MSN or DNP degree program. 

Some MSN and DNP programs offer matching services to place NP students and recent graduates into preceptorships. Several programs place a lot of responsibility on their students and graduates to find preceptorship placements; students and new graduates often need to network to land the preceptorship. NP associations based on a specialty or geographical area can also be a tremendous resource in securing preceptorships.

Not all preceptorships are created equal. NP students and recent graduates should seek a preceptorship matching their personality, specialty, and career goals. One should also consider the logistical implications of any preceptorship, the same way one would consider the commute, schedule, curriculum, and colleagues at any other university or job. 

The programs listed below prioritize the preceptorship experience and actively work with students and graduates to help them secure preceptorship placements. While NP students and graduates will likely still need to draw upon their own resources to find the ideal preceptorship, they will have support in their quest. 

Read on to learn more about NP preceptorships in every NP specialty area.

Preceptorships for Adult-Gerontology NPs

University of Illinois Chicago – College of Nursing

UIC Nursing relies on volunteer preceptors to help educate the next generation of NPs through clinical practice. During rotations, students are placed with one to two preceptors, with whom they divide their hours. Faculty at UIC arrange all clinical rotations, match students to preceptors, and facilitate the required paperwork for each clinical site. 

  • Affiliated Program: BSN-DNP (AG-PCNP)
  • Number of Clinical Hours: 675
  • Location: Chicago, IL

Chamberlain University 

Chamberlain University’s AG-PCNP program includes five practicum courses. In addition, to help students prepare, the university offers a preceptor matching service that provides coaching sessions for finding the ideal preceptorship site. 

To qualify for the matching service, students must have participated in two coaching calls with the university’s Experiential Learning Team and be able to document five sites that have denied practicum requests.  

  • Affiliated Program: SN (AG-PCNP)
  • Number of Clinical Hours: 625
  • Location: Chicago, IL

Regis College

Regis College offers an adult gerontology – acute care (AGACNP) preceptorship. To qualify, students must have experiential qualifications, clinical experience or certification, current malpractice insurance, and national certification as an NP, a certified nurse-midwife, or psychiatric clinical nurse specialist. NPs in this environment gain experience in inpatient and outpatient settings.  

  • Affiliated Program: MSN (AGACNP)
  • Number of Clinical Hours: 650
  • Location: Weston, MA

Indiana University – School of Nursing

Indiana University offers a 42-credit adult gerontology primary care nurse practitioner (AGPCNP) program, which requires a clinical preceptorship. Upon completing this program, graduates earn a post-master’s certificate, consisting of 16 credit hours. This program is offered in a hybrid (on-campus and online format) and is offered to APRNs and specialty physicians such as doctors of osteopathy and physicians’ assistants. 

  • Affiliated Program: MSN (AGPNP)
  • Number of Clinical Hours: 525 
  • Location: Bloomington, IN

Preceptorships for Acute Care & Critical Care NPs

University of California San Francisco – Department of Surgery

UCSF’s Surgical and Critical Care NP Fellowship Program is designed to expand upon the knowledge and skills acquired during graduate nursing training. The program is the first critical care NP program in California and the first surgical NP program nationwide to be accredited with distinction by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Learn more about their preceptors here

  • Affiliated Program: Surgical and Critical Care NP Fellowship
  • Number of Clinical Hours: Full-Time (Salaried)
  • Location: San Francisco, CA

University of Pennsylvania – School of Nursing

Students in the AG-ACNP program at Penn Nursing will benefit from the school’s extensive network of highly skilled clinicians. However, when it comes to the program’s practicum, the program does the legwork for the student and matches them with a preceptor. Learn more about their award-winning preceptors here

  • Affiliated Program: MSN (AG-ACNP)
  • Number of Clinical Hours: N/A
  • Location: Philadelphia, PA

Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University Medical Center offers a 12-month residency program for nurses with graduate degrees transitioning from student to professional nursing. Specialty tracks include adult acute care medicine, adult acute care surgical, and pediatric acute care. The residency program has seven start dates throughout the year and is accredited by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation in Practice Transition Programs. 

  • Affiliated Program: MSN
  • Number of Clinical Hours: N/A
  • Location: Nashville, TN

University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth)

The Cizik School of Nursing offers an MSN and post-graduate family nurse practitioner program that includes a four-credit preceptorship. In addition, the 41-credit master’s program offers several tracks, including an adult/gerontology acute care track which prepares professionals to care for acutely ill patients from adolescence through the entire lifespan. 

Upon completing this program, graduates can sit for the certification exam offered by the American Nurse Credentialing Center or the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses. 

  • Affiliated Program: MSN 
  • Number of Clinical Hours: N/A
  • Location: Houston, TX

Preceptorships for Cardiovascular NPs

University of Louisiana at Lafayette – Department of Nursing

The six-month graduate certificate program in cardiovascular nursing at the University of Louisiana Lafayette includes four credits of clinical experience. Working with both a preceptor and a faculty member, students will learn to collect data, compile a comprehensive medical history, conduct physical examinations, and develop an appropriate plan of cardiovascular care. 

In addition, students will work across a diverse range of settings and methods, including telecardiology, remote monitoring, robotics, and mobile apps. 

  • Affiliated Program: Graduate Certificate in Cardiovascular Nursing
  • Number of Clinical Hours: 120
  • Location: Lafayette, LA

Duke University – School of Nursing

The School of Nursing at Duke University offers a cardiology specialty to MSN degree-seekers and MSN degree holders. In addition to clinical hours, three courses are required, including cardiovascular specialty and synthesis. This program provides specialized knowledge and practice in cardiology. Students can complete the courses online or on-campus.    

  • Affiliated Program: MSN
  • Number of Clinical Hours: 168
  • Location: Durham, NC 

Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science

With three campuses across the US, the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science in Phoenix, Arizona, offers a cardiology nurse practitioner fellowship. Admission to this program is competitive, with only two fellows accepted each year. Applicants who have completed an NP program and are board-certified can join this 12-month program, which pays $62,000 annually and benefits. Fellows in this program gain extensive experience in electrophysiology, interventional cardiology, and cardiovascular diagnostics. 

  • Affiliated Program: MSN (FNP)
  • Number of Clinical Hours: 1,700
  • Location: Phoenix, AZ

Preceptorships for Family NPs

Duquesne University – School of Nursing

NP students at Duquesne University who seek a preceptor have the advantage of the university’s wide-ranging resources and expansive alumni base. In addition, the clinical coordinator for the university’s online NP programs helps students locate preceptors. Learn more about how the school advises its students in searching for preceptorship placements here.  

  • Affiliated Program: MSN (FNP)
  • Number of Clinical Hours: 750
  • Location: Pittsburgh, PA

East Tennessee State University – College of Nursing

ETSU’s NP students have the opportunity to develop advanced physical assessment skills through the university’s clinical practicum. Working with preceptors, students will be exposed to various clinical settings, including rural clinics, urban clinics, and nurse-led clinics. 

While clinical site placement is primarily the student’s responsibility, ETSU students may also receive assistance from course faculty, student services, and program and concentration coordinators. Learn more about their clinical placement and preceptor guidelines here

  • Affiliated Program: MSN (FNP)
  • Number of Clinical Hours: 540
  • Location: Johnson City, TN

Oregon Health & Science University – School of Nursing

OSHU offers an online family nurse practitioner distance program with on-campus intensive and preceptorships. The preceptorships are offered in rural areas of southern and eastern Oregon. The program comprises seven faculty members, and approximately 25 students are accepted annually. Students are provided housing at clinical sites and work about 40 to 50 hours per week. 

  • Affiliated Program: MSN (FNP)
  • Number of Clinical Hours: 1,000
  • Location: Portland, OR

Pacific Lutheran University – School of Nursing

Pacific Lutheran University offers a doctor of nursing practice degree for family nurse practitioners (FNPs) and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners (PMHNPs). The clinical placements are organized by PLU faculty, and students can attend classes full- or part-time. 

In addition, PLU offers a BSN to DNP program that can be completed in three years (full-time) or part-time (four years). The preceptorship prepares students to see patients from ages two and up. 

  • Affiliated Program: DNP (FNP)
  • Number of Clinical Hours: 500 to 1,000
  • Location: Tacoma, WA

Preceptorships for Neonatal NPs

Northeastern University – Bouve College of Health Sciences

Northeastern’s fully-online neonatal NP program appreciates the importance of NP preceptorships, especially in distance learning. Graduate specialty coordinators meet with students to develop preferred sites for each student, and advisors help arrange clinical placements in each student’s geographical area. 

The program exposes students to multiple preceptors (many of whom are program graduates) to aid in understanding different practice techniques and styles. Northeastern offers several potential preceptorship programs in Boston and more across the country. 

  • Affiliated Program: MSN (NNP)
  • Number of Clinical Hours: 500
  • Location: Boston, MA

University of Utah – College of Nursing

The neonatal NP program at the University of Utah includes a practicum where students will have clinical experiences in various neonatal ICUs, assessing and caring for critically ill infants. Learn more about their practicum and preceptorship program here

  • Affiliated Program: DNP (NNP)
  • Number of Clinical Hours: N/A
  • Location: Salt Lake City, UT

University of Texas at Arlington – College of Nursing and Health Innovation

UTA offers a graduate nursing MSN post-master’s certificate in the neonatal nurse practitioner preceptor program. Students in this program take five courses in neonatal nursing and learn to diagnose and treat mothers, neonatal fetuses, and newborns. 

In addition, two neonatal NP clinical practice classes and an advanced practicum are included in the curriculum. Upon completing this program, graduates earn university-level certification in neonatal nursing at the doctorate level. 

  • Affiliated Program: MSN (NNP)
  • Number of Clinical Hours: N/A
  • Location: Arlington, TX

University of California San Francisco – School of Nursing

Part of the UC system, the University of California San Francisco offers a neonatal nursing specialty emphasizing cultural sensitivity. This program is designed for master’s and post-master’s RNs. Students in this program earn a minimum of 600 hours of mentored practice hours and are eligible for California state licensure and national certification as a neonatal nurse practitioner (NNP). 

  • Affiliated Program: MSN (NNP)
  • Number of Clinical Hours: 600
  • Location: San Francisco, CA

Preceptorships for Pediatric NPs

Oregon Health & Science University  – School of Nursing

OHSU recruits preceptors from across the Portland area to work with its pediatric NP students to provide children primary and acute care. Clinical rotations include pediatric primary, acute, specialty, and chronic care. As each student progresses, their clinical immersions are mapped individually to ensure they graduate with broad exposure to the pediatric NP role and profound learning experiences. Learn more from their preceptor manual here

  • Affiliated Program: DNP (PNP)
  • Number of Clinical Hours: N/A
  • Location: Portland, OR

University of Arizona – College of Nursing

The University of Arizona’s pediatric NP program includes clinical placements for NP students arranged with appropriate preceptors and administrators. Priority is given to placing preceptorships within a student’s geographical area. Learn more about the program’s clinical rotation objectives here

  • Affiliated Program: DNP (PNP)
  • Number of Clinical Hours: 720
  • Location: Tucson, AZ

Blank Children’s Hospital

Part of the UnityPoint Health system, Blank Children’s Hospital offers a preceptor program for nurse practitioners. NPs interested in this program must apply a year before starting the program. Students can complete this program for multiple semesters, but a new application must be completed for each semester. To apply, candidates must review the expectations, fill out the clinical experience application, and provide an updated CV. 

  • Affiliated Program: DNP (PNP)
  • Number of Clinical Hours: N/A
  • Location: Des Moines, IA

Indiana University – School of Nursing

Indiana University’s School of Nursing’s pediatric nurse practitioner (PNP) track includes 525 hours of direct patient care in a pediatric setting. Students in this track learn pediatric care through didactic courses and rotations in clinical placements in hospitals, private practices, and school-based clinics. Upon completing this program, graduates are eligible for board certification in pediatric nursing. 

  • Affiliated Program: DNP (PNP)
  • Number of Clinical Hours: 525
  • Location: Des Moines, IA

Preceptorships for Psychiatric NPs

Gonzaga University – School of Nursing & Human Physiology

Gonzaga’s psychiatric mental health (PMH) NP program includes clinical experiences where students are matched with preceptors. Preceptors will meet with the student to discuss progress in the clinical setting; occasionally observe the student interacting with patients, and evaluate the student’s ability to present assessment findings succinctly. Learn more about their preceptor program here

  • Affiliated Program: MSN (PMHNP)
  • Number of Clinical Hours: 60-240 hours per semester
  • Location: Spokane, WA

University of Colorado Boulder – Counseling and Psychiatric Services

Students enrolled in a psychiatric NP program are eligible to apply for University of Colorado Boulder’s PMHNP preceptorship. Competitive applicants will be able to demonstrate a commitment to the values of social justice and multiculturalism. If accepted, trainees will be engaged in clinical care either on-site or via teletherapy. 

  • Affiliated Program: MSN (PMHNP)
  • Number of Clinical Hours: 16-20 hours per week
  • Location: Boulder, CO

Boston University – School of Medicine 

The department of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine offers psychiatry and mental health nursing preceptorships to students in the nurse practitioner program. In addition, two clinical sites are available: the adult outpatient clinic and the community crisis stabilization unit at Boston Medical Center. 

  • Affiliated Program: Multiple
  • Number of Clinical Hours: 16-20 hours per week
  • Location: Boston, MA

University of San Diego – Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science 

The University of San Diego DNP program offers seven unique specializations, including psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner. Courses in this program include applied psychotherapeutics with adults, children, and adolescents. Applicants with a bachelor’s or master’s degree are eligible for admission to this program. Learn more about their preceptor program here

  • Affiliated Program: DNP (PMHNP)
  • Number of Clinical Hours: 1,080
  • Location: Boston, MA

Preceptorships for Women’s Health and Gender-Related NPs

Yale School of Nursing

Yale School of Nursing prides itself on extensively vetting its clinical preceptors, many of whom are on staff at the university. Yale also matches preceptors with students to optimize clinical experiences semester by semester. These clinical experiences are comprehensive, intensive, and specialized, offering students everything they need to know about the WHNP scope of practice. 

  • Affiliated Program: MSN (WHNP)
  • Number of Clinical Hours: 634
  • Location: Orange, CT

University of Nebraska Medical Center

Students at UNMC’s women’s health NP preceptorship participate alone and with assistance in performing physical examinations, ordering necessary lab data, analyzing assessments, proposing diagnostic and therapeutic plans, and documenting encounters. The preceptorship combines four didactic courses in advanced practice in women’s health. 

  • Affiliated Program: DNP (WHNP)
  • Number of Clinical Hours: 15 hours per week
  • Location: Omaha, NE

University of Pennsylvania – School of Nursing

The University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing offers preceptorships to MSN students in women’s health and midwifery. The preceptorships are 14-19 months which may exceed the requirements of the MSN program. Students in the WHNP program must complete a minimum of 13 course units. Upon acceptance to the preceptorship program, students must complete a compliance package to begin their clinical preceptorship hours. Learn more about their preceptor program here.

  • Affiliated Program: MSN (WHNP)
  • Number of Clinical Hours: N/A
  • Location: Philadelphia, PA 

University of Minnesota – School of Nursing

The University of Minnesota offers MSN and DNP programs in women’s health/gender-related nurse practitioning. Students in the DNP program can complete their studies in three years by attending school full-time. 

In addition, the school arranges clinical placements at a clinical site in the Minneapolis area. Graduates from this program are prepared to provide healthcare to women of all ages. 

  • Affiliated Program: MSN (WHNP); DNP (WHNP)
  • Number of Clinical Hours: 1,000 hours
  • Location: Minneapolis, MN
Matt Zbrog

Matt Zbrog

Writer

Matt Zbrog is a writer and researcher from Southern California, and he believes a strong society demands a stronger healthcare system. Since early 2018, he’s written extensively about emerging topics in healthcare administration, healthcare research, and healthcare education. Drawing upon interviews with hospital CEOs, nurse practitioners, nursing professors, and advocacy groups, his writing and research are focused on learning from those who know the subject best.