Scenario: You’re a nurse practitioner student who has a semester left until graduation, and the preceptor you had secured for your clinical rotation fell through at the last second. Now you’re scrambling to find a new preceptor to avoid delaying graduation.
It shouldn’t be this way, but unfortunately this is the case for so many NP students across the country-- so many schools fail their students by refusing to help them find preceptors for their clinical rotations.
You’re stressed and don’t even know where to begin to find another rotation.
Luckily, there are steps you can take to secure a preceptor. And they really do work! At NPCR, we used the tactics outlined below to expand from Atlanta, GA to 12 different cities across the U.S.
Step 1: Use School Resources/Talk to Other Students
Talk to the Clinical Coordinator or Clinical Director at your school and ask for a list of preceptors your school has used in the past. This list is almost always out-of-date, but it’s a place to start.
Just go down the list and start calling preceptors to ask if they’re willing to take a student for a clinical rotation. Some preceptors will say they haven’t taken a student in five years, but that’s okay. Keep calling!
Another good way to find a preceptor is to talk to your classmates! Chances are, if your classmate rotated with a preceptor, they are willing to take on another student. Ask your classmate for the contact information of the preceptor if they have it, or for the office manager at the clinical site.
Here’s a great pro-tip: Ask your professors for older students that they’re still in touch with!
Step 2: Outreach on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a great way to reach out to preceptors.
The benefit of this is that you’re reaching the preceptors directly, as opposed to the office manager or a member of their staff.
LinkedIn is an incredibly powerful platform because most preceptors have accounts, and many office managers are on it as well. We recommend using LinkedIn in conjunction with calling physician offices. This way when you find out the office manager’s name during a call, you can instantly connect with them on LinkedIn.
Emails have to be opened and read, but many LinkedIn messages are pushed directly to an individual’s phone. Remember, in order to get a confirmation for a clinical rotation, you need to have the attention of the office manager/preceptor.
Here’s a great pro-tip for using LinkedIn: Once you connect with enough office managers and potential preceptors, LinkedIn will start auto-recommending you others people in same industry to connect with!
Once you engage with the preceptor or office manager, the image below a great message script that our students use all the time!
Also, we created a free e-book that outlines, step-by-step, everything you need to do in order to find your own rotation. Check it out here: The Ultimate Guide To Finding Your Own Clinical Rotations.
Step 3: Call Local Physician Offices with Proper Follow-Ups
When you start calling physician offices in your area, the initial results can be frustrating! But if you can apply a systematic approach, you will see good results faster!
Most times, speaking on the phone with the preceptor directly will not happen. They’re busy all day seeing patients and usually don’t even keep track of their own schedules.
That’s okay though because you want to speak with the office manager. This person typically runs the show in any clinic.
To reach the office manager, call the clinic and ask to speak with the person that schedules students for clinical rotations.
If the receptionist answers with “there’s no one here that does that” or that the person is unavailable, then ask for the office manager. This is usually the same person.
The office manager most times will not be available, and you’ll be sent straight to voicemail.
This is okay!
Just leave a voicemail: be sure to be super friendly, let them know you’re looking for a rotation on [Insert] date, and that you’ve heard great things about the preceptor and would love to work with them.
You might think you’re now stuck until someone calls you back.
This is not the case! There are still a few ways (that work!) to reach the preceptor.
Directly after you leave a voicemail for the office manager, call the clinic again and speak with the receptionist.
Let him/her know you left the office manager a voicemail, but you know that they’re super busy, and rather than taking their time out of their day to schedule a call, it would be easier for them to reply to a quick email. Most of the time, the receptionist will be happy to give you the email address.
This can be more effective for many reasons- but the main reason is time. It takes 20 seconds for an office manager to skim a quick email, but it usually takes at the least five minutes to have a phone conversation with someone about scheduling a rotation.
Yes-- talking to someone on the phone is typically more effective than emailing back-and-forth, but for an initial email, it gives the office manager all the information about what you’re looking for without you having to wait for a call back.
So, what kind of email will generate a response?
Subject line Tips: Make sure they know this is a quick email. The subject line should read: “Quick question. Follow-up from voicemail”. People are more willing to read emails that are short, sweet, and to-the-point.
Body: Explain your situation, but be brief! Make sure to explain exactly how many hours you need and when you need to start your rotation. Express that you’d love to work with the preceptor, and ask for a good time to follow-up would be.
There’s no reason to outline your entire story or working history in this email. Rather make the email concise and be clear to the office manager on what the next step needs to be.
Many times, office managers will reply to emails after the last patient of the day, so they’re exhausted and just want to get home. Make it easy for them to respond to, and they’ll be more willing to help you!
We all know that the current system for nurse practitioners to find and schedule clinical rotations is broken and unfair. With that being said, employing the best practices above will make your lives easier!
Be open to new methods, and practice patience, and good luck out there!
For more insights and word-for-word email scripts to find preceptors check out our free e-book: The Ultimate Guide To Finding Your Own Clinical Rotations or check out www.nursepractitionerclinicalrotations.com.
Krish Chopra is the Founder of NPCR, Nurse Practitioner Clinical Rotations. He believes that universities should be required to find their student’ clinical rotations, and is doing everything in his power to empower universities to take additional accountability. In the meantime, he and his awesome team help NP students all across the country to find and schedule their clinical rotations!