I’m continuing this months’ guest post series for Preceptor Month with one from Nikki Nies. She takes a look at the internship-preceptor relationship from the other side, giving insight into what it’s like to serve as a preceptor. RDs out there, if you’re on the fence about whether it’s worth it, keep reading!
We’re coming off the wave of encouragement and enthusiasm from #NationalNutritionMonth! April is going to be just as exciting! Since 2013, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has designated April as National Preceptor Month. We all know it’s important to recognize that without preceptors, our profession wouldn’t exist! None of us would be where we are without the direction, patience, advice and leadership of our preceptors. This month’s acknowledgement not only raises awareness of the need for preceptors, but spearheads recognition to the practitioners who shape future leaders.
Being a preceptor myself has helped encompass my dietetic vision. It’s also given me a role as a contributor to society—to elevate, empower and educate. While those are in no particular order, I’m sure you have some semblance of the same vision for yourself. Therefore, if you’re asking yourself how you can contribute to moving the profession forward, becoming a preceptor may be part of solution!
If you are hesitant to take on a dietetic intern, use this month as a reminder as to why you went into the profession and how you can continue to be a positive change agent within the dietetic community.
Call to Action:
- Interns: Are you looking for placement for a particular rotation? Use the Academy’s ‘Find a Preceptor’ portal!
- RDs: Sign up to become a preceptor today! Contact an ACEND representative at firstname.lastname@example.org for list of internship programs needing preceptors or contact local affiliates about becoming a mentor.
By registering as a potential preceptor on the Academy website you will be stating your willingness to take interns as part of supervised practice. Within the database, preceptors can be found based on specialty or geographical location. Availability can be updated as needed.
If students reach out to you individually, be sure to ask for name of program, time requested, resume, objectives, expectations and prior experience.
If this is the facility’s first time precepting an affiliation agreement or contract is required.
Benefits of Being a Preceptor
- Enhance preexisting skills and knowledge
- Provide hands on experience vs. only textbook knowledge to help interns prepare for Registration exam
- Provide routine feedback of student’s progress to student and program
- Receive feedback and suggestions on preexisting protocols, systems and programs. You just might find a more efficient method! Questions can provide clarity on the why and how to do tasks
- Strengthen coaching, listening and leadership skills
- Opportunity to mentor varying backgrounds, cultures and learning styles
- Stay up to date on latest research, trends and programs via intern. They’ll bring fresh perspective and new knowledge
- Continue education with Preceptor continuing education credits
- Obtain satisfaction seeing interns develop and blossom as professionals
- Share workload—interns can act as an extension of RD by revising protocols, updating templates or conducting inservices
- Model professional characteristics and expectations
- Expand network
I’ve heard horror stories from fellow dietitians about their internships rotations. Not all experiences were foreseeable, but internships are hard enough as it is. Let’s not add to the stress. Share with us @streetsmartRD and @simpleeatsRD what tasks your intern is involved in or the rewards you’ve seen from being a preceptor. Stay tuned as I’ll be sharing my interview with a current dietetic intern, Hannah Plume, in my next guest post.
Learn more about Preceptor Month with these resources HERE.