February 19, 2024
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The Clinical Placement Process and Its Hidden Challenges

Nurse practitioner (NP) programs have rapidly grown as RNs return to schools to advance their education to meet growing healthcare demands and provide better service for patients. These new NP students envision the day they complete their rigorous coursework and transition into clinical rotations – finally getting to apply their skills under an experienced preceptor and be one step closer to getting their title.

However, securing those pivotal preceptorships is far more challenging than most NP students think. Unlike their RN programs, NP students are mostly left to find their clinical placements on their own.

Little do they know, ahead lies a maze of administrative headaches, endless networking leading nowhere, repeated rejections, and growing uncertainty threatening graduation timelines.

Preceptor vetting, onboarding, schedule coordination, contracts, and paperwork alone overload already stretched-thin NP students who have to keep working their full-time jobs as RNs, studying and dealing with their personal lives. What seems like a clear pathway twists into a costly, months-long struggle.

The goal of this blog is to dive deep into the hidden complexities of the clinical placement process that not enough people are talking about and that NP students have to face with no support.

Lack of School Support

Clinical rotations are ESSENTIAL to any healthcare program. These supervised, hands-on experiences under seasoned professionals allow students to bridge theory with complex real-world practice. By immersing in direct patient care environments, students cement knowledge, hone skills, and confront the unpredictable challenges that arise in a clinical setting. Placements are pivotal for critical thinking, clinical readiness, and compassion that saves lives.

That’s why nursing schools and medical programs invest resources into placement coordination. They know securing training sites directly impacts student success and their ability to excel after graduation. No student gets left behind.

Except for NP students, where the vast majority of NP programs rely on students to find their own clinicals. The reason? It all comes down to infrastructure. Most schools simply don’t yet have the resources. Their clinical partnership staffing, technology, and advisor bandwidth haven’t caught up. So they have to hand these complex duties to students who have no idea or guidance on how to effectively network and secure the connections to lock down their preceptorship.

The result? NP students, overwhelmed and stretched thin, are left to navigate the challenging task of securing a preceptor on their own. With limited support and bandwidth, they find themselves in fierce competition with other NP students for the highly sought-after preceptors amidst the current nationwide preceptor shortage.

The Preceptor Shortage

NP student enrollment has skyrocketed, to the point where nurse practitioner programs have an expected growth rate of 40% by 2031. Yet preceptors aren’t keeping up the same pace. This severe supply-demand imbalance leaves placements perpetually scarce.

But why? Here are a few reasons why there are not enough preceptors:

Having previously endured miserable student experiences, many preceptors have grown extremely selective of who to onboard, and some have completely checked out from taking students up to 2 years.

The significant time investment required to oversee placements can hinder productivity. Private firms often have certain productivity benchmarks, and preceptors worry that the extensive logistics involved in mentoring and onboarding students could diminish their productivity levels.

The lack of incentives to precept NP students is a big turn-off for many healthcare experts. It’s all volunteer work without any financial perks, making it hard to drive enthusiasm for precepting.

On top of that, there’s this nagging worry about the quality of patient care. Bringing students into high-stakes or specialized settings makes preceptors hesitant about it. They’re concerned about ensuring their patients get the good treatment they deserve.

In the end, NP students are the ones who suffer most in this preceptorship dilemma. They find themselves in a constant battle for the limited spots available each term, a struggle that puts their futures at risk.

Admin and Logistics Nightmares

If finding a preceptor wasn’t arduous enough, NP students also had to navigate the maze of paperwork and the logistics of booking clinical placements.  We’re talking about preceptor research, insurance compliance, onboarding contracts, and all the paperwork involved so your school can approve a preceptorship – it can certainly be a nightmare.

While also finishing their coursework and working 40+ hours per week as RNs. NP students inevitably burn out juggling the intense administrative and planning workload complex placements require. By graduation, passion feels replaced by bitterness after months of coordinating in the dark.

The Costs and Consequences

Securing clinical placements is a formidable challenge in itself, but the real trouble begins when NP students fail to find a preceptor and have to sit out a term. This situation forces them to confront the financial repercussions head-on:

  • Extra Terms Mean More Tuition: Every additional term not only prolongs their education but also inflates their tuition bills. This can significantly increase the overall cost of their degree.
  • Delayed Entry into the Workforce Means Lost Wages: Postponing graduation means delaying the start of their careers as fully qualified NPs. This deferral denies them access to the full salaries they would otherwise earn, compounding the financial strain.
  • Increased Student Loan Interest: For those relying on unsubsidized student loans, every month of delay means more interest piling up. This can substantially swell the total amount they’ll have to repay, making the financial burden even heavier.

When placements fall through, the repercussions extend far beyond mere disappointment. Students face the reality of their savings being drained, their debts skyrocketing, and their potential wages frozen in time.


The path to becoming a Nurse Practitioner is filled with unexpected challenges, from securing clinical placements to navigating a maze of administrative tasks and facing financial and emotional pressures.

At NPHub, we understand that this path can seem daunting. However, it doesn’t have to be this way – for the last 6 years, we made it our mission to streamline the clinical placement process for NP students and be their support system. By handling all the heavy lifting, we turn a daunting task into a quick and efficient process, allowing students to focus on their education and future careers.

900+ 5-star reviews

Let us take care of the complexities. Go to NPHub.com and browse our pool of vetted preceptors today.

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