Did you have to search for your clinical sites while in NP school? Man, I would have done (almost) anything to lock down a clinical site. For example, I (very briefly) contemplated offering anyone who agreed to precept me for rotation a “gently used” 32 inch flat screen TV. It had been given to me as part of an estate (offer still stands Beverly if you want it).
Yes, the school gave us a detailed list of preceptors who already had affiliation agreements with the University which was helpful but no slam dunk. I found myself utilizing every connection, cold calling offices, faxing introduction letters and requesting (begging) for sites. I told anyone who would listen I needed practicum sites. It got so bad that I cornered an obstestrician in the elevator at work (not my finest hour, he seemed use to it).
The scarcity of a site was not because of being picky. If you were willing to train me, I was willing to come. Case in point, my pediatric rotation was in a small, poor, sugar farming community over an hour away. I had to cross six train tracks each way. Most of the drive was on a narrow, one lane, country road with alligator infested canals on each side. I tried my best not to speculate how long it would take to find my car if I ever got in an accident out there….maybe 1, 2, 20 years? The professor who had to perform my clinical site assessment and evaluation had her father drive her out to the area in his pickup truck. I loved that place.
Despite all the stress and worry to obtain sites, I consider myself fortunate for a few reasons. 1. I never had to delay my progress in school 2. Never had to pay for sites 3. Had wonderful preceptors and 4. Did not have to scramble at the last-minute to get a site. Sadly, this is not the case for many.
“Austin” (not his real name) and myself were in the same Advance Nursing Theory class. We became friendly after being in the same group for a presentation. He had to put his progress on hiatus when his first preceptor bailed on him days before starting the semester and he could not find a suitable replacement on time (he tried 35 different offices). That was almost 4 years ago, John (still not his real name) has not returned to school despite having a 4.0 GPA, and 18 years experience as a critical care nurse at a world-renowned medical center. Many could argue that Austin did not want it bad enough. I do not see that as the case. The way he explains it is that when the time is right, he will try again.
I had no idea the difficulty of clinical site placement before I started school. Now, it seems many students are aware of the shortage. If I had to give any advice to incoming students. I would say look for a school that provides placement. If that is not an option, then devise a plan, start early, use every connection you have and possibly resort to begging (kinda serious).