Why is it so difficult to find a psychiatric preceptor?

By Brian Howard posted 02-04-2019 10:16 PM

Why is it so difficult to find a willing psychiatric preceptor?  Any ideas?  Would love to hear!



02-28-2019 08:44 PM

Hi Brian. I'm not sure if the shortage is the culprit.  You'd think with the shortage there would be more eagerness to have graduate students.  I have been an APN clinical preceptor for graduate nursing students in 3 states (CA, WA, MT) and served in this capacity for many years (since the mid 1980's).    When I worked in large treatment facilities there was support for me providing this service, but typically I spent lots of extra time with the student that wasn't 'compensated'.  I always viewed it as my 'pay it forward' gift.  Never did I regret working with a student, even if they had difficulties. Often I learned a thing or two.  In recent years, there seems to be a shift going on. In my community it seems there aren't enough students to 'go around' anymore.  Previously, I always had students interested in working with me. Then there seems to have been a lull (?) in interest over the past 4-5 years.  At least two prospective students were told that my private practice setting was not adequate / appropriate for their training, in some way (never did get a clear explanation for this).  In both cases, the faculty (from separate teaching institutions) were not familiar with my clinic / personal practice and just defaulted to larger agency settings.  I began to wonder if I was 'lacking' in some way, eg "Not a DNP" (I'm a PhD in nursing), too old (I'm a died-in-the wool PsychMH CNS with prescriptive authority, BC -but not as a 'nurse practitioner' -but licensed as one in WA state).  Or perhaps I'd crossed someone, somewhere.  Of course, as soon as I gave up my second office (kept for years, to provide for students).. I now have a new grad NP student who will be starting training with me this summer.  I can't wait.  In my opinion, both traditional programs and online programs can provide excellent educational experiences.  I'm more concerned about the student loan debt newly minted APRNs/ARNPs must conquer when they finish their studies.

02-19-2019 09:55 PM

I am sure you are aware of the SEVERE psychiatric provider shortage.

My heart breaks to know a child or teen with a mental illness has a 10 to 12 MONTH wait to get in with a psychiatric provider. 

Adults face about 6 month wait.

The shortage is felt every single day here in East texas and a matter of fact... In Texas there are 254 counties- 206 are declared as shortage in psychiatry. Psychiatry was listed as the lowest ratio per capita in state of Texas 





02-19-2019 07:43 PM

I have a hard believing the shortage statement in the area that I am located.  Specifically, today I was told that the head of nursing had  an issue with online programs, and specifically held my contract because of it.

Online programs are accredited and have to meet standards.  How are they any different than the local programs that place all of their content online in the same way instead of having their students drive down to the university?

02-17-2019 01:09 PM

The most difficult part of my programming was finding a preceptor. And others had it even harder than me. One problem- shortage in psychiatric providers. 2nd only after primary medicine for demand. I have students booked until Fall 2020. And some of the programs require the preceptors to only have 2 students in a given semester. There was a "rumor" that the Universities were going to be required to find preceptors for their NP students. I would highly recommend that- especially for psychiatric NP students.

02-05-2019 01:55 PM

​I do about the same with precepting students. I think once you get used to doing it, it really does not take any extra time. I just know that many folks see it as extra work.  Have a great day!

02-05-2019 01:40 PM

Thank you for responding!  I did locums in Michigan in a large ED, as an APRN and had a great experience with RNs, PAs, and APNs.  I currently take 1-2 students/yr to precept and have never given a second thought to precepting a future NP, nor has it ever cut into my personal time.

02-05-2019 01:00 PM

​Lots of reasons; lack of time on the job, lack of training to be a preceptor, concern that it will cut into personal time.  These are the reasons I hear when I am (desperately) searching for a preceptor for a student nurse in my state (Michigan - howdy neighbor!). I think more should be done in nursing schools to emphasize the importance of giving back - and teaching precepting skills.