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Information for Preceptors

Preceptor Step-by-Step Process

The Preceptor Process Step-by-Step

When you're ready to serve as a preceptor and have a student internship in mind, follow these six steps to become one of our practice partners.

Step 1: Develop a practicum opportunity

Your first step will be to develop a practicum opportunity. Consider the needs of your organization and how a project could fulfill that need. The best projects are those that are well-defined, specific, and can be completed in a specified time period. A practicum must have realistic expectations and objectives and must be competency-based. It is important to clearly state any skills or knowledge required to complete the project (e.g., familiarity with computer statistical software or foreign language fluency).

If you have already identified a student for your project, skip to step 4.

Below is the general information that is required to submit a practicum opportunity:

  • Brief Practicum Description & Proposed Approach
  • Practicum Goals
  • Examples of work the student could accomplish during the practicum
  • Skills required by the student to complete the practicum (i.e, data analysis, writing, etc.)
  • Number of students requested for the project (can be one student or group of students)
  • Anticipated time commitment needed for one student (e.g., hours per week, start/end date of practicum)
  • Location where student will complete work (on-site, off-site, or both). For on-site projects, include the organization’s hours of operation and if accessible by public transportation
  • Description of what the team/organization offers that would make a significant educational experience for the student (i.e., opportunity to work directly with communities, engage in program implementation and evaluation, etc.)
  • Possible challenges for a successful student experience (i.e., tight timeline, large organization, etc.)
  • Application process (e.g., application deadline, interview process)

You can review example practicum projects here.

Step 2: Submit a practicum opportunity

When you have developed a practicum opportunity, you will submit the opportunity through the Practicum Opportunity Site .

Step 3: Conduct student interviews/selection

You determine the application procedure, as well as the number of students you choose to interview. To have a better chance of finding the right student, it is suggested to interview several students. In-person interviews are encouraged to better assess the applicants, as well as to allow the student(s) to experience the travel from their location to your organization’s office. However, if necessary, phone or videoconference interviews are acceptable. After you have selected a student, please inform the School that the position has been filled. The School will then remove your opportunity from the student search site so that students will not continue to contact you about your opportunity.

Step 4: Orient student and work together to complete the practicum learning plan

After you have selected a student, you will need to orient the student to your organization. We encourage you to introduce the students to other staff to allow the student to gain an understanding of the workplace culture. It is important to discuss work logistics, including exchange of contact information, work hours, procedures for absences, parking, ID badges, computer log-ins, etc.

You will also need to work with the student to complete the Practicum Learning Plan, an agreement that outlines project scope, activities, responsibilities, and timeline. It is IMPORTANT to work with the student to come to a consensus on project scope, activities, deliverables*, and timeline. The student is required to submit and receive approval for the learning plan prior to beginning their practicum.

*Note, upon completion of the practicum, students will be required to share at least 2 tangible, applied work products (deliverables) developed for use by the partnering organization.  

Step 5: Provide project information and supervision

Provide the student with necessary information, guidance, instruction, and supervision for them to develop the knowledge, skills, and understanding needed to successfully carry out the project.

During the course of the practicum, regularly scheduled check-ins with the student are strongly encouraged to remain aware of student progress as well as answer questions or address any concerns. It is important to have an alternate preceptor available in your absence. If there are ever any problems at any time, please contact us as soon as possible.

Step 6: Evaluate the student

During the course of the practicum experience, there are two required preceptor evaluations, the mid-term Progress Report and  the Final Evaluation. In the Practicum Learning Plan, you will develop a timeline that will include evaluation due dates. The practicum team will then send you a reminder in advance of the due dates.

Special Considerations

Institutional Review Board – Human Subjects Research

If your project involves data about individual living people (e.g. personal health information, individual identifiers such as address, birthdate, race/ethnicity), Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval may be required. If you think that your practicum project might require IRB approval, please indicate this in the practicum opportunity description. The School will then follow up with you to discuss this with you further. If your project does need IRB approval, the School will be in touch with you to discuss further (which may delay project approval).

Legal Standard for Unpaid Internships

For unpaid student internships, projects need to be in compliance with the following Fair Labor Standards Act guidelines:

  • The student should receive an educational learning experience;
  • The experience must be beneficial to student;
  • The student should not replace the position of other staff;
  • The employer does not receive immediate benefit from the student’s work (e.g. employer cannot receive payment from clients/customers for the student’s activities) ;
  • There is no entitlement to wages during practicum experience;
  • There is no entitlement to a job after completion of practicum experience.

We also urge preceptors to have a discussion with students to ensure that the scope of the project is appropriate for the time frame and capabilities of the students. In the event that the project scope changes or becomes larger than what the student can handle in the given time frame, the preceptor and student should re-evaluate the expectations so that both parties mutually benefit from the outcome. Please notify us of any changes in the project scope. The Practice Office is available to provide assistance with any problems, questions, or concerns.