Enhancing Preceptor-Program Relationships in Higher Ed


Mentorship is key to developing a skilled and ready workforce in various educational fields. From health sciences like nursing and physical therapy to broader disciplines requiring hands-on training, the demand for proficient professionals is constant. Mentors such as instructors and preceptors play a crucial role in this ecosystem, offering direct guidance that sharpens student skills and readies them for real-world challenges across diverse care settings and educational environments. 

These experienced individuals enhance the learning process, ensuring that students not only meet but exceed the expectations of their future roles. Noting the importance of their roles in higher education, institutions must find creative ways to not only bring instructors and preceptors into the fold, but keep them engaged and continuously participating. 

Please note, in this blog post, we use the term "preceptor" to describe the pivotal role individuals play in guiding and mentoring students, particularly in clinical education. However, we acknowledge that terminology may vary across different programs. 

Depending on the program or institution, "preceptor" may be interchangeable with titles such as supervisor or instructor. We encourage you to interpret it in a manner that best suits your program.

In navigating the challenges posed by increased competition, limited preceptor availability, and existing constraints in enhancing the precepting experience, schools must strategize. At CORE, we highlight three essential yet straightforward aspects for schools to prioritize in nurturing strong relationships with their preceptors:

1. Facilitate seamless collaboration with preceptors.

2. Equip students for their clinical or field experiences.

3. Streamline retention initiatives.


Let’s discuss best practices for each of these key aspects.

Facilitate seamless collaboration with preceptors

Creating a positive first impression is key. Ensure that preceptors feel welcomed and valued as integral partners in your educational program.

Consider small gestures, like a heartfelt thank-you card from the team, to kick off the relationship on a positive note.

Additionally, focus on simplifying the onboarding process. Steer clear of cumbersome paper forms and confusing signup portals. Opt for a streamlined process that allows preceptors to easily submit requirements, such as licenses, for a quick and hassle-free approval process. Invest in minimizing any potential friction in the processes.

Preceptor sign upAn easy and intuitive signup process gives a first impression you run an efficient preceptor onboarding process. This image features CORE’s pending users feature.

Watch the on-demand webinar on enhancing program-preceptor relationshipsPreceptor and site requirements, and all information in general, is easy to lose in the face of endless email exchanges and clunky, siloed software that doesn’t talk to other programs to keep faculty and preceptors in the know. Site contracts and requirements are all items which can be managed in CORE’s ELMS solution. You can even set up automated email reminders for preceptors to upload their information straight from the email link - they don’t actually have to sign on to the portal! 

CORE clients often leverage the READINESS solution to upload training modules for preceptors to be well prepared for incoming students. 

The other way to ensure preceptors feel ongoing support from your school is to make conscious choices about communication channels. Email alerts work well to remind preceptors of the kinds of daily or weekly things that need upkeep—evaluations, case logs, hours, etc. 

CORE offers a Text Messaging add-on to make it simple for your program staff to send messages directly to your students and preceptors! 

preceptor evaluations

Equip students for their clinical or field experiences

In this post-pandemic environment where students have gotten used to signing on for classes virtually, it's imperative to help prepare students for in-person professional experiences. 

Provide students with materials that reinforce expected professionalism standards and soft skills. This can set your program apart by ensuring that the students are prepared for work, coachable, and understand the importance of a positive attitude. 

CORE's READINESS software provides training modules to ensure students are professionally prepared, which benefits both the students and their preceptors.

Streamlining preceptor retention initiatives 

One of the more popular and well-received initiatives can be offering continuous education credits for preceptors for their time spent with students. Depending on the discipline, up to 120 hours of preceptor participation can be credited towards CE for either the American Association of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board or the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

Just make sure you are doing your due diligence to ensure your program is properly positioned and able to offer CE credits to preceptors for participating in your program with your students.

You can even automate the process of delivering CE certifications though CORE's ELMS solution.

Another initiative programs can use to keep preceptors engaged is offering adjunct faculty roles. This can serve as a great resume boost for preceptors as they look to ladder up in their careers and your program can serve as a valuable reference for them in that journey.

Beyond the CE and adjunct roles, simple rewards and certificates also work. You can also prioritize onsite visits. Going onsite to visit preceptors and getting face to face time with them at their place of work can ensure you are observing how they are interacting with students, get their voice heard in their environment of comfort, and assess the site itself first hand.

Depending on how many students you have at the site, you may want to visit 1-2 times a year to make sure students are getting the experience they will require to successfully transition to their future roles.

Manage the Preceptor Relationship with CORE

Utilizing these strategies undoubtedly enhances your ability to foster a strong preceptor relationship, but having the right software to streamline processes is equally vital.

CORE’s software solutions support these efforts by simplifying administrative tasks, fostering communication, and ensuring a smooth workflow between students, preceptors, and educational administrators. Explore CORE's suite of clinical education solutions to see how they can benefit your program.

Check out all of CORE's purpose-built clinical education solutions, and please contact us for a personalized tour of the software.

CORE Higher Education Group


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