June 22, 2020
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The NP Clinical Rotation Guide: FAQs for Beginners

As a current (or prospective) nurse practitioner student, you are probably going to feel a bit overwhelmed by the several, hundred hours of clinical rotations you will need to complete at some point in your journey to graduation. Most FNP programs require you to find your own preceptor and, for many students, just the thought of having to find multiple preceptors for different clinicals can be daunting in itself.

With COVID-19 invading every aspect of daily life, this task appears to be even more difficult than usual. If you are starting the process for your first clinical rotation, you probably have a lot of questions about your upcoming journey.

The Onboarding Student Specialists at NPHub speak with different NP students every day, most of whom are super anxious about their rotations, and have a lot of questions. If you are feeling this way, no worries, you are not alone! Here are the answers to the top most frequently asked questions that NP students have when looking for their first rotation.

When should I start looking for a preceptor?

Finding preceptors for your clinical rotations can take months, sometimes longer, so it is very important not to wait until the last minute to start looking. Kick off your search for a potential preceptor at least six months in advance. This will ensure that you meet your school’s requirements and deadlines, and in the case of an unfortunate event, you’ll still have time to work on securing a replacement preceptor for your upcoming rotation.

Looking for a preceptor can feel like a competitive sport, and many NP students miscalculate the time and work that goes into securing a preceptor. As a result, they have to postpone their semester and graduation date. Prepare, prepare, prepare, and don’t delay!

Will I be able to travel to another state to complete my clinical rotations?

As a nurse practitioner student, you are able to travel to another state to complete your clinical rotations if you have a compact license. For those who are unfamiliar with the compact license, the NLC (Nurse Licensure Compact) allows registered nurses (RN’s) to have one license that gives them the authority to practice in multiple states, often known as “compact states”.

There are currently 34 states that acknowledge the multi-state license. Nurse practitioner students who own a compact license are able to practice in any of those 34 states without having to go through the tedious process of obtaining a new license. In order to be eligible for a compact license, students must be actively licensed as an RN or professional nurse. In addition, you must reside in an NLC state and list that as your primary residence, and you have to meet the state’s requirements for licensure.

Can I complete a Primary Care clinical rotation in an Urgent Care setting?

For most schools, the answer to this question will be no. While primary care, out-patient clinics and family practices are similar to urgent care clinics, both are very different settings. Most preceptors who work in primary care settings often have well established relationships with their patients. They have the full scope of their medical history and can be more receptive to their patient’s needs.

People usually go to urgent care clinics for non-life threatening emergencies. Though they provide many of the same services as family practices, they are usually walk-in friendly and can provide care to their patients faster.

Most schools do not allow NP students to complete primary care clinical rotations in an urgent care setting because primary care physicians are important in the process of diagnosing health issues that are recurrent.

Where can I find assistance looking for a preceptor?

Most schools require that students look for preceptors on their own. Usually, they will explain their requirements and send you on your quest. While your school may not provide the best assistance, there are some schools that will help you find clinical sites through a clinical site coordinator. Some nurse practitioner students may also find assistance in faculty.

Furthermore, there are a few preceptor recruiting services, like NPHub, that help you find preceptors and proper placement for clinical rotations. While there is usually a fee, it is one of the most effective ways to secure a preceptor in a timely manner, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Most recruiting services find a preceptor for your needed time frame, manage the paperwork process between you and the preceptor, and ultimately take a ton of stress off many students.

These are the most commonly asked questions from nurse practitioner students who are just starting the process for their first clinical rotation. If you want to get more preceptor and clinical site related information, as well as NP life related content, check out the other articles on our blog, and our Facebook and Instagram pages.

If you’re looking for a preceptor and feeling lucky right now, check for preceptor availability at https://www.nphub.com/student/browse-rotation. You can also always contact us via social media and we’ll be happy to help!

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