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School of Nursing > BSN Preceptors > Preceptor Orientation & Training for Capstone

Preceptor Orientation & Training for NURS 477 Capstone

Goals of focus for Preceptors and Capstone Students: Based upon the BSN Essentials
The capstone rotation is an immersion experience providing "opportunities for building clinical reasoning, management, and evaluation skills" (AACN, 2008). This experience supports the student as they integrate previous learning and continue to develop the roles of the baccalaureate generalist nurse at the novice level. The preceptor will support the student in meeting the four (4) goals. Use the descriptors listed to support the evaluation of meeting each goal.

Upon completion of the rotation, the Capstone student will:

1. Develop self-confidence, professional image, and sense of belonging that facilitate the transition to competent and confident practice.

  • Communicates effectively with patients and family
  • Uses active listening to establish trust
  • Promotes patient safety, rights, and confidentiality
  • Approaches challenges or obstacles with a positive attitude
  • Arrives at clinical on-time, prepared with supplies, and dressed appropriately


2. Develop increasing autonomy to manage an assignment that more closely approximates a realistic workload of a novice nurse in that environment.

  • Prioritizes patient care needs across the assigned patient load
  • Seeks assistance and/or uses resources when appropriate
  • Demonstrates effective time management skills
  • Accepts responsibility for actions and decisions


3. Develop the roles of the baccalaureate generalist nurse at the novice level as a provider of care including:

  • Evaluating client changes and progress over time 
  • Developing a beginning proficiency and efficiency in delivering safe care
  • Demonstrates adequate knowledge base when providing patient care
  • Identifies pertinent patient information prior to providing care including medications, labs, diagnostics, etc.
  • Performs baseline and focused assessments as indicated
  • Provides patient-centered care
  • Responds to changes in patient condition
  • Develops/revises the plan of care based on patient status
  • Documents accurately and completely in a timely manner

4. Develop the roles of the baccalaureate generalist nurse at the novice level as a designer, manager, and coordinator of care including care transitions.

  • Links theoretical concepts to practice
  • Incorporates evidence-based practice in patient care
  • Communicates relevant information accurately and concisely during the nursing report
  • Collaborates and communicates effectively with interdisciplinary team members
  • Supervises and evaluates delegated care
  • Provides effective patient and family teaching and documents accurately
  • Anticipates and advocates for patient/family needs

Capstone Highlights

  • Students will be working 24-30 hours per week according to their preceptor's schedule unless prior arrangements have been made. More than 30 hours is not preferred.
  • Students may begin working shifts any time after orientation to the course and facility have been completed with the exception to class days. Students have the option to work shifts over spring break or finals week if necessary with clinical faculty being on call.
  • Preceptors assist the student in progressing to caring for patients while assigned approximately 75% of a traditional RN workload in that department, with minimal supervision. 
  • Preceptors must supervise students setting up and administering all medications.
  • Preceptors are responsible for monitoring and cosigning daily practices such as documenting, medication administration and practicing clinical skills. 

Frequently Asked Questions by Preceptors

How do students choose their Capstone site and Preceptor?
What grade does the student receive in this course?
If the preceptor "floats" to another unit to work for a shift or attends a code what should the student do?
What are the student's clinical attendance requirements?
Does the student always have to be with the preceptor when they are on the unit?
What is the dress code for the students?
What can the students chart in the medical record?
Can the student notify the physician and receive additional patient care orders?
What medications can the student administer?
How is the student clinical performance evaluated and who does this?
What should I do if I have concerns about the student's professional conduct?
How are the Capstone Course, the SON clinical faculty, the clinical facility, and the preceptor evaluated?

How do students choose their Capstone site and Preceptor?
The process of student enrollment in the Capstone course is made by matching student interests with available opportunities. Students select their top five and bottom five preferences from a master list. They are then matched to their placement based on their class ranking. Students are ranked according to their average ATI test scores and Nursing GPA from the first two semesters. Students who wish to pursue a capstone that is in a population-based or primary care setting, do so with prior approval and mentoring.

What grade does the student receive in this course?
The Capstone course is a three (3) hour clinical course consisting of 192 clock hours (12 hours assigned to orientation/simulation/conferences). Students receive a pass or fail at the end of the course and not a letter grade.

If the preceptor "floats" to another unit to work for a shift or attends a code what should the student do?
Generally, it is a good idea to have the student go with the preceptor. This decision is a judgment decision based primarily on where the student has the best learning opportunities.

What are the student's clinical attendance requirements?
Students are expected to be on the unit ready to start when the preceptor would normally start their responsibilities. Students need to complete the shift and should not leave until the patients they are caring for have another care provider who indicates they are ready to assume care responsibilities. Students, who are ill or unable to be at clinical, must contact the SON clinical faculty and the clinical unit. The preceptor should notify the SON clinical faculty anytime a student is not meeting these expectations. Time spent by the student on the unit after the end of their shift is not included in the 180 hours of clinical commitment.

Does the student always have to be with the preceptor when they are on the unit?
The student does not always have to be with the preceptor when they are doing clinical work on the unit. For instance, when a preceptor is sent home for PTO or is ill, we hope that the student would be reassigned by the preceptor or charge nurse to another appropriate nurse depending upon the unit census or nurse availability. Students should not arrange to work with other staff members without the approval or knowledge of the preceptor. If this is occurring, then preceptors should clarify their expectations with the student and notify the SON clinical faculty.

What is the dress code for the students?
Students are expected to dress in their SON grey scrub top, grey scrub pants, or business casual with KU SON lab coat. All other dress requirements should be consistent with the dress code expectations of the nursing staff on the unit and the institution. The student must ONLY wear the name badge from the School of Nursing identifying them as a nursing student.

What can the students chart in the medical record?
Students should be making entries in the medical record as if they were an RN in that department. Refer to institution policy for specifics. Students should sign each entry with: (their name), KUSN. The KU SON recommends that the preceptor sign these entries immediately after the student.

Can the student notify the physician and receive additional patient care orders?
During the semester, the student should have developed enough confidence in their abilities to notify the physician or appropriate medical staff to explain a patient's clinical status. The preceptor should follow the appropriate agency policy of the institution.

What medications can the student administer?
Preceptors should expect students to be able to administer PO, IM, IV, Topical, eye and ear drops, and suppositories competently. Preceptors should expect that the student has a working knowledge of all the medications they are administering. Knowledge of actions, interactions, and administration of medications is an ongoing process, and students should feel comfortable interacting with the preceptor to increase their ability but also demonstrate personal initiative. Preceptors should not expect a student to be familiar with medications that are unique to the clinical unit or experimental (i.e., Chemotherapy). Preceptors do need to verify a student's competency with medications. The preceptor needs to be with the student during preparation, validation, and administration of all medications.

How is the student clinical performance evaluated and who does this?
Each time the preceptor interacts with the student they should be identifying and evaluating how the student is meeting the capstone goals. Structured evaluation conferences occur at mid-rotation and the end of the rotation. During the conference, the student, preceptor, and faculty review what the student has done to meet the course criteria . After the evaluation, the preceptor, student, and faculty should all sign it.

The determination of a student's demonstrated competency is subjective and varies depending on the type of unit and the expectations of that unit. While we do expect that students will be able to satisfactorily perform most of the roles of an RN on that unit, we do not expect that students will perform at the level of an experienced RN. One criteria that preceptors have used to assess overall student competency is to ask themselves, how comfortable would I feel about this person's ability if I had to work with them every day?

Preceptors who have any concerns about whether the student is meeting the clinical performance expectations should contact the SON clinical faculty.

What should I do if I have concerns about the student's professionalism or safety?
The ability of all students to conduct themselves in a manner consistent with appropriate professional nurse expectations is expected. Students who fail to treat their patients, families, significant others, preceptors, nursing staff, classmates and SON clinical faculty with respect are subject to not only course failure but also a further review of their activities by the School of Nursing administration. This same standard of behavior is expected when dealing with information of a confidential nature.

Preceptors who are working with a student who is not safely delivering care should contact the SON clinical faculty member as soon as deficits are seen to discuss their concerns and develop a plan of action. The SON clinical faculty is ultimately the one who must decide if the student is performing at a satisfactory level.

How are the Capstone Course, the SON clinical faculty, the clinical facility, and the preceptor evaluated?
Each year a formal evaluation of the Capstone course is completed. Each student is asked to complete an evaluation of the course, their SON clinical faculty, preceptor, and the facility where they completed their Capstone through MOKAN. In addition, each preceptor is given the opportunity to evaluate the student, SON clinical faculty, and course through MOKAN. The evaluations are standardized but do include areas for written responses. All precautions are taken to ensure that those people completing an evaluation remain anonymous.

American Association of Colleges of Nursing [AACN]. (2008). The Essentials of Baccalaureate Education for Professional Nursing Practice.

Last modified: Jan 18, 2019
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