A Guide to Preceptorships for NPs – All NP Specializations

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

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

Some MSN and DNP programs offer matching services that do their best to place NP students and recent graduates into preceptorships. But it’s not always that easy. Several programs place a large amount of responsibility on their students and graduates to find preceptorship placements themselves; students and new graduates often need to network in order to land the preceptorship they want the most. NP associations based on a particular 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 out a preceptorship that matches their own 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 in order to find the ideal preceptorship, they will have support in their quest.

To learn more about NP preceptorships in every NP specialty area, read on.

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, whom they divide their hours between. 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. To help students prepare, the university offers a preceptor matching service that includes coaching sessions for finding the ideal preceptorship site.

In order 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: MSN (AG-PCNP)
  • Number of Clinical Hours: 625
  • Location: Chicago, IL

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 large network of highly skilled clinicians. 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

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. 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

Preceptorships for Family NPs

Duquesne University – School of Nursing

NP students at Duquesne University who are seeking a preceptor have the advantage of the university’s wide-ranging resources and expansive alumni base. The clinical coordinator for the university’s online NP programs helps students locate preceptors. Learn more about how the school advises its students in the search 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 a wide variety of 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

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 the understanding of different practice techniques and styles. Northeastern offers a number of potential preceptorship programs in the Boston area, 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 a wide variety of 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

Preceptorships for Pediatric NPs

Oregon Health & Science University

OHSU recruits preceptors from across the Portland area to work with its pediatric NP students in providing primary and acute care to children. Clinical rotations include pediatric primary, acute, specialty, and chronic care. As each student progresses, their clinical immersions are mapped individually to ensure that they graduate not only with broad exposure to the pediatric NP role but also with deep 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 that are arranged with appropriate preceptors and administrators. Priority is given to arranging 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

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: 660
  • 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: Multiple
  • Number of Clinical Hours: 20 hours per week
  • Location: Boulder, CO

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 WHNP scope of practice.

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

University of Nebraska Medical Center

Students at UNMC’s women’s health NP preceptorship participate both alone and with assistance in performing physical examinations, ordering necessary lab data, analyzing assessments, proposing diagnostic and/or therapeutic plans, and documenting encounters. The preceptorship is combined with 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
Matt Zbrog

Matt Zbrog


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.