A preceptor is a teacher or instructor with special training who can provide practical training to an intern. The best preceptors like to teach, and they will volunteer for the role rather than wait to be assigned.

During the internship, a preceptor will:

  • Demonstrate genuine interest in the student.
  • Be willing to commit time and expertise to help guide the student – be accessible.
  • Relate new concepts to the student’s prior learning when possible.
  • Use good communication skills. Also, actively listen, share, and respect the student’s input.
  • Be flexible.
  • Model professional practice and behaviors, but avoid having the student just “shadow” them.
  • Focus on strengths rather than weaknesses.
  • Promote independence as appropriate by using guiding strategies and problem solving techniques.
  • Develop a trusting, open relationship.
  • Help promote problem solving.
  • Use reflection to help students learn from experiences.
  • Use encouraging strategies; help students feel as if they “belong.”
  • Correct mistakes in a timely, supportive fashion, zeroing in on remediation and how to avoid mistakes in the future.

Important preceptor responsibilities to ensure a successful experience:

  • Provide an orientation for the student intern and review agency guidelines with students, especially those that will impact the student experience directly.
  • Help student feel a sense of belonging in the agency. Provide opportunities for the student to participate in important agency functions such as meetings, outreach events, etc., as appropriate.
  • Be aware of the student’s learning goals so that you can help structure experiences that will help the student meet goals.
  • Give honest, constructive feedback to the student and faculty supervisor as needed.
  • Meet with student at frequent, regular intervals to provide feedback, evaluate progress, and resolve problems.
  • Remember what may seem basic or easy for the preceptor may not be basic or simple to the student