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Rounds With Leadership: Is Paying for Clinical Preceptors in Our Future?

Published June 24, 2020

Welcome to Rounds with Leadership, a forum for AACN’s Board Chair and President/CEO to offer commentary on issues and trends impacting academic nursing.

June 24, 2020 - Is Paying for Clinical Preceptors in Our Future?

In response to the recent increase in anecdotal reports from nursing schools on paying for preceptors and access to clinical sites, AACN and the American Organization for Nursing Leadership (AONL) launched a joint survey last fall to better understand the issues around payment for clinical preceptors. AACN sent a survey to the deans of our 825 member schools and received completed surveys from 306 schools (37% response rate).

The survey found that the majority of schools in this representative sample are not currently paying, nor have they paid in the past, for clinical preceptors or clinical placement sites. However, a large majority of schools are concerned about the future demand to pay. The survey also found that the most difficult types of clinical placement sites for baccalaureate programs to find were pediatric acute care, obstetrics, and mental health sites/experiences. The most difficult placement sites for graduate programs to find were family practice/primary care, pediatric primary care, and women’s health sites.

Specific findings include:

  • Only 9% of schools with baccalaureate programs have or are paying for preceptors, and 9% have or are paying for clinical placements.
  • For schools with graduate programs, 10% and 9% are paying for preceptors and clinical placement sites, respectively.
  • The data show there are some areas of the country that are more likely to pay and that there are certain types of schools paying as well. For baccalaureate programs, a slightly higher percentage of schools were paying for preceptors in the North Atlantic and for clinical placements in the Midwest. For graduate programs, a slightly higher percentage of schools in the South were paying for preceptors; a slightly higher percentage of schools in the North Atlantic and in the South were paying for clinical placement sites.
  • Many schools (47%) are part of a regional or state consortium whose purpose is to address clinical placements. 

​In March 2020, at the request of the AACN Board of Directors, a new analysis of the data was conducted to see if schools in those states where Graduate Nursing Education (GNE) monies had been awarded to expand nurse practitioner clinical education were continuing to pay for preceptors or clinical sites at a higher rate than other states. As part of the GNE Demonstration Project, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services provided funding to five eligible hospitals in partnership with schools of nursing in five states from 2012 to 2015. Some of these monies were used to pay preceptors and for clinical sites. Not surprisingly, schools in the GNE states expressed higher levels of concern with having to pay for preceptors and clinical sites within the next two years than schools in states without GNE funding. In addition, a higher percentage of schools in the GNE states were paying for graduate program preceptors and clinical sites  than schools in states without GNE funding. 

The AACN-AONL Advisory Committee believes that the survey results are representative of AACN’s membership. While a majority of member schools report they are currently not paying for clinical placements or preceptors, they are concerned about a future demand for payment. AACN will continue to monitor this issue and work with stakeholders to help shape the future of clinical nursing education on behalf of the schools we serve.

Complete survey results are posted here on the AACN website.

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