1. Bodine, Jennifer DNP, FNP-C, NPD-BC, CEN

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One of the nursing professional development (NPD) practitioners' seven roles is partner for practice transitions. In this role, "the NPD practitioner supports the transition of nurses and other healthcare team members across learning and practice environments, roles, and professional stages" (Harper & Maloney, 2016, p. 17). In parallel to the NPD practitioner's efforts, preceptors support healthcare team members in their professional growth within health care. A preceptor is integral to helping staff members' transition; whether the team member is a new graduate entering into the clinical setting, an experienced nurse developing skills within a new specialty, or a nurse assuming a new role within the healthcare setting.

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Highlighting the alignment between the NPD practitioner and the preceptor roles within an organization, Association for Nursing Professional Development (ANPD) released a position statement titled Preceptors in 2020. The position statement compared the roles of the NPD practitioner as delineated in the Warren and Harper (2017) study to the preceptor roles identified by Ulrich (2019). The comparison resulted in ANPD definitively stating:


"Precepting is not recognized as a nursing specialty. However, precepting shares commonalities with nursing professional development that should be examined through rigorous research. Serving as a preceptor is often an entry into the specialty practice of nursing professional development-an ANA recognized specialty in which certification is available. ANPD recognizes the value of preceptors and supports their practice through research and recognition." (Harper, 2020)


As noted in the ANPD position statement, the commonalities of roles make for a natural transition from preceptor to NPD practitioner. Therefore, the NPD practitioner should both encourage and enable this potential preceptor-to-NPD practitioner transition by investigating training strategies that focus on areas in which the NPD practitioner and the preceptor's roles align. By implementing both preceptor development courses and targeted mentorship, a well-trained preceptor will be an advantageous position once the decision to assume the NPD practitioner's role is made.


One key focus area for inclusion in preceptor development courses is the role of learning facilitator. Within this topic area, aspects of NPD can be dispersed throughout both the beginner and advanced preceptor development courses. In the introductory course, new nurses should be introduced to the basic concepts of precepting and NPD. During the course, novice preceptors can become acquainted with the Educational Design and Delivery Model, which guides NPD practitioners through developing educational activities (Case di Leonardi, 2014). The course design can guide preceptors in adapting the model to meet the educational needs of a single or small group of preceptees utilizing adult learning principles. In this way, NPD practitioners can begin exposing preceptors to basic methods for planning, implementing, and evaluating the educational experiences they will provide for their preceptee. Finally, an introductory course should familiarize preceptors on methods to identify gaps in practice. The course should focus on identifying gap root causes and on desired outcomes for the selected gap mitigation strategies.


Accordingly, advanced preceptor development courses, targeting more experienced preceptors, should explore approaches to planning, implementing, and evaluating educational experiences further by delving into more complex clinical teaching techniques, including articulation, reflection, exploration, storytelling, coaching, and scaffolding (showing a technique and then stepping back and offering support as needed; Gueorguieva et al., 2016). In addition, an advanced course's curriculum should include environmental scanning, a vital NPD practitioner responsibility. This subject area centers around current clinical education trends and how the evidence-based practice process is employed to appraise and implement best precepting practices within the organization. Ultimately, the aligned strategies used in both the introductory and advanced preceptor courses would prepare the advanced preceptor to fulfill the NPD practitioner's role as a learning facilitator and champion for scientific inquiry.


Beyond traditional coursework, NPD practitioners can and should use mentoring to further prepare preceptors for the NPD practitioner role. As Bartlett (2017) noted, "growing in the professional role of nursing involves being mentored and mentoring others." (p. 2). Thus, aiding a preceptor's emotional intelligence development is an essential part of understanding others; this strategy prepares the preceptor to transition from a peer role model to the NPD practitioner's greater mentorship role (Stickley & Riley, 2020).


In a previous issue, this column discussed the preceptor's role as an informal leader. The column identified approaches to developing the leadership traits-agility, empathy, flexibility and adaptability, selflessness, communication and soft skills, cultural intelligence, authenticity, and versatility-necessary for preceptors to excel (Bodine, 2019). When grooming a preceptor for the next step, the NPD practitioner can mentor the preceptor regarding how these traits are extended to working with stakeholders at all levels of the organization. Also, NPD practitioners can advise preceptors in operationalizing the evidence-based practice process in order to implement, evaluate, and disseminate best practices. Finally, by familiarizing preceptors with the organization's available professional growth resources, the NPD practitioner can prepare the preceptor in the role of partner for practice transitions. These key mentorship touch points will build upon formalized training sessions, thereby easing the preceptor into the NPD practitioner roles of leader and champion for scientific inquiry.


Exposing preceptors to NPD competencies while training them to maximize their skill set as preceptors can be an efficient means for setting the foundation for those who would like to continue their professional growth by becoming an NPD practitioner. Opportunities should be created through preceptor development courses and mentorship to educate preceptors about NPD roles and responsibilities. Starting the process of cultivating the NPD generalist competencies early on can help the preceptor fully understand the NPD practitioner's roles, thus helping them make an informed decision about joining the ranks and increasing the odds of a more successful transition. I would love to hear other NPD practitioner's thoughts on preparing preceptors for the NPD practitioner role. If there are any questions or comments regarding this article, please e-mail Jenn Bodine at




Bartlett R. (2017). Mentoring and being mentored: Both are empowering. Reflections on Nursing Leadership, 43(3), 1-5. [Context Link]


Bodine J. (2019). Preceptors leading the way. Journal for Nurses in Professional Development, 35(5), 291-293. [Context Link]


Case di Leonardi B. (2014). Getting Started in NPD. Association for Nursing Professional Development. [Context Link]


Gueorguieva V., Chang A., Fleming-Carroll B., Breen-Reid K. M., Douglas M., Parekh S. (2016). Working toward a competency-based preceptor development program. The Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing, 47(9), 427-432. . [Context Link]


Harper M. G. (2020). Preceptors. [Position Statement]. [Context Link]


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Stickley K., Riley E. (2020). Nursing mentorship: What defines a good mentor?ASBN Update, 24(2), 20-21. [Context Link]


Ulrich B. (2019). Mastering precepting: A nurse's handbook for success (2nd ed.). Sigma. [Context Link]


Warren J. I., Harper M. G. (2017). Transforming roles of nursing professional development practitioners. Journal for Nurses in Professional Development, 33(1), 2-12. . [Context Link]