Frequently Asked Questions by Preceptors

What are the requirements to become a preceptor?

According to the WOCN® Society’s Accreditation Manual for the WOC-accredited nursing education programs, requirements for a preceptor include the following:

  • Education: RN with a minimum of a Baccalaureate Degree.
  • Certification: Has current CWOCN; or has current WOCNCB® specialty certification in the specialty in which they teach/precept; or has certification through a national specialty nursing organization or national nursing credentialing center in the specialty in which they teach/precept.
  • Clinical Experience: At least 1 year of full-time specialty practice after certification.
  • Teaching Experience: Preceptors must demonstrate completion of a preceptor workshop or other structured learning program that included principles of adult learning, critical teaching strategies and clinical evaluation methodology; or demonstrate evidence of prior preceptor or clinical nursing educator experience.

Check with the school for more details concerning alternative experiences such as continence care.

Do I have to be a WOCN member to be an approved preceptor?

No, the preceptor must be approved by the WOCN-accredited nursing education program. However, WOCN membership is strongly encouraged.

How can I be approved by a school to precept?

  • Check that school’s website for preceptor application and approval process information.
  • Contact school directly if information not found.
  • Collect clinical statistics for your practice and clinical population.
  • Collect certification, RN licensure, and resume documents for submission per the school’s application process.
  • If a current contract is not in place, check your facility’s clinical contract process.

How do I find a preceptor?

You can search the WOCN preceptor database, contact the school directly, reach out to WOCN regional and/or affiliate board, or network in your area. Preceptors appearing in the national, regional and/or affiliate databases may or may not already be approved by an individual school. Contact the school directly to check approval status for a particular preceptor. If the desired preceptor is not currently approved, encourage that individual to go through the application approval process for that school.

If the preceptor is listed on the WOCN website, does that mean the preceptor is approved by all schools?

No, each school must approve preceptors for students in that program.

Where do I start with a new student?

Assess where each student is with their career development. Is the student new to nursing or an experienced nurse new to the WOC or advanced practice role? Review and discuss the skills and other requirements to assess the student’s familiarity with the content to establish the baseline knowledge.

What can the preceptor expect from the student?

The student should have entry-level knowledge of WOC concepts that they are being precepted for and show readiness to learn and extend knowledge base. Student should arrive on time, be professional, and follow the organization’s dress code. Student should present the clinical assignment documents for preceptor’s review.

What if a student doesn’t understand a concept?

Assign a review of that content then assess learning, include a note in the preceptor evaluation, and notify the school if the student does not comply or still does not seem to understand. The preceptor is the eyes and ears of the program from a clinical standpoint, and that feedback is important to assessing whether a student is ready to graduate.

Is a contract required before the clinical hours can begin?

Yes. Contracts are negotiated between the school and the organization which can take up to 6 months. The contracting process varies from one facility to the next. In some facilities it is the preceptor who initiates this process and in others it is through nursing administration, nursing education, or directly through the legal department. Realize that laws and negotiations are fluid and may change periodically so it is essential to check early on to see if a prior contract is still valid. The school is responsible for notifying the student of clinical requirements. The student is responsible to adhere to the contract. Questions regarding clinical contracts should be referred to the school.

Is the preceptor responsible for organizing and/or providing the health and professional liability insurance?

Health and professional liability insurance during the clinical experience will vary according to each school’s and facility requirements. It is ultimately the student’s responsibility to check with the school regarding this information. This is also a clinical contract issue and will be addressed between the school and the facility. The student is responsible for checking the school’s website or contacting the school directly for more information.

What if a required learning experience (skill) is not available during the clinical time, or what if the required skill is one a preceptor does not perform frequently?

Simulations can be set up in the office or the patient setting in a way that will facilitate learning and can include high-tech or low-tech options. Preceptor resources include the skill check-lists, case study analysis to guide the simulation, skill videos, or written procedures on the skill. Reference materials may include but not limited to the WOCN Society’s clinical practice guidelinesWOCN Core Curriculum textbooksWOCNCB candidate handbook for baseline knowledge needs.

Can I assign a student an adjunct observation for a learning experience that is outside of my usual patient encounters?

In most instances the student must complete clinical hours with the approved preceptor. Additional learning experiences or observations are beneficial and can be overseen by the approved preceptor with prior school endorsement for that activity.

Can I teach product formularies for my facility?

Yes. The learning experience will be enhanced through the discussion of generic product categories and alternatives and matching that to the brands used in the product formulary of your facility, including evidence-based clinical applications.

Can I teach my facility’s prevention bundles?

Yes. New WOC nurses will benefit from utilizing prevention bundles in the clinical setting.

Can I take my student to meetings?

Yes, if these meetings are related to WOC practice, such as product evaluation, policy development, pressure injuries, CAUTI prevention, etc.

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