Finding and securing a nurse practitioner clinical site is a task that all students in the program must tackle. It fulfills the practical requirement of the degree and must be completed prior to graduating, meaning that students must spend a good amount of time finding a clinical site that meets their needs. A nurse practitioner student would benefit by reading these tips on how to secure their site, including the need to confirm placement and as well as using their own connections to find placement. Here are some of the most important things to keep in mind when finding a clinical site for a nurse practitioner program.

Determine Requirements

A nurse practitioner student has the responsibility to double check the requirements for clinical sites prior to securing their placements. Some programs require placements at different facilities for a well-rounded practical education. Students who wish to specialize in one form of a nurse practitioner, such as working with an OB-GYN or a pediatric doctor, will also need specialized clinical placements. Students are encouraged to go over the requirements with their mentor to ensure that they understand which clinical sites will help them with their degree.

Begin Early

Securing a clinical site will take a lot of time, which is why it is generally considered a good idea to begin the process at least a year in advance. This timeframe will give most students enough time to find clinical sites that meet their program’s requirements, especially if they are in an area where that site may be hard to secure. It also ensures that all nurse practitioner students will be able to find placement within the community, as competition can be stiff when it comes to securing a preceptor, which is a general requirement for clinical placements.

Use Connections

Most students in a nurse practitioner program will already be working as nurses or within healthcare settings. This means that students may already have a network in place that can help them secure a nurse practitioner clinical site. Since many programs allow students to complete their clinical hours in the same facility that they work, those networks become a great resource. Students who are not currently working as a nurse or in a healthcare facility will find that their networks, be it at school or work, may also yield them a clinical placement. However, their path towards finding placements may require them to do some cold calling to healthcare facilities; this is inevitable and happens with nearly all students.

Confirm Placement Several Times

Once a student has found a clinical site and they have been approved for their clinical hours, they must confirm placement at regular intervals. Because securing a site generally happens at least six months prior to starting the placement, students are encouraged to call their preceptor once a month to confirm their placement. This will ensure that both the student and the site are regularly reminded of the commitment to the practicum. It also serves to give the student a heads up if their placement falls through, giving them time to secure another clinical site in time to complete the requirement.

Note About Online Programs

A nurse practitioner student who is completing an online program will still be required to complete practicums. While the process of securing a clinical site is like on-campus programs, students will note one big difference: these sites will be within a student’s community and not near campus. This means that the responsibility of securing the nurse practitioner clinical site and a preceptor falls on the student, especially if they do not live in the same state as their school. Students are encouraged to start the process of securing their sites at least a year in advance to ensure that they meet the requirements.

Related Resource: Top 30 Most Affordable MSN Nurse Practitioner Degrees Online

Business Insider is reporting that a physician shortage in the United States is growing, meaning that professionals with clinical experience will be needed to fill the gap. A nurse practitioner student can become an important part of reducing the shortage by graduating with experience under their belt. Securing a nurse practitioner clinical site is part of their education and so securing an appropriate site is critical. Those who are in programs right now across the country are encouraged to heed the advice in this article to ensure they receive the best possible experience to prepare them for their role in the healthcare field.