Skip to main content

School of Nursing

School of Nursing > BSN Preceptors > Preceptor Orientation & Training for Population Health Practicum

Preceptor Orientation & Training for NURS 480: Practicum IV - Leadership in a Population Health Setting

Goals of Population Health Practicum
Goals were developed for the population health nursing student as an advanced beginner as defined by Benner's Stages of Clinical Competence for a BSN generalist role (Benner, 1984). As a preceptor, the goals are guides, but you are given the freedom to create opportunities that are unique to your setting. The nursing school faculty also assigns the students Focused Learning Activities (FLA's), allowing the student to meet many of the competencies and goals through those assignments. The nursing school faculty guides the FLAs.

Goal 1-develop analytic and assessment skills that identify the structural and culturally diverse needs of the population.

  • Provide students with data to review and identify trends. Some data you might consider are cases of flu, absences in school, no-shows in a clinic, number of visits by chief complaint. 
  • Discuss how the Social Determinants of Health affect the care you provide. Social determinants that might be examined include socioeconomic level, violence, access to medical care, high school graduation rate, and environment/housing conditions.
  • Have students talk to staff members who provide services in response to the Social Determinants of Health present in your population. 

Goal 2- develop the role of the population health nurse to work within the available population health system.

  • Discuss how you use guidelines to plan care. 
  • Compare your current role to other roles you may have had in nursing. 
  • Discuss specific training and/or continuing education that is required. 
  • Discuss ways you promote health among your population. 

Goal 3- develop communication skills that will facilitate the role of the population health nurse

  • Ask students to review information on current or potential partners. 
  • Have student identify potential resources that could address the social determinants of health for your students. 
  • Discuss with the student the partnerships which are currently in place.
  • Have the student assist with a health promotion project. 

Goal 4-demonstrate leadership qualities in the population health setting.

  • Discuss how your programs are funded. 
  • Identify a potential ethical situation. Describe the situation to the student and have them research state laws etc. surrounding the issue-for example, a religious exemption for vaccination or sexual health of minors. 
  • Discuss professional behavior in your setting.
  • Allow the student to present a project and demonstrate leadership and professionalism.

Population Health Highlights

  • Students will be in clinical eight hours per week for six weeks on Tuesdays according to their preceptor's schedule and Wednesdays for 4 hours.
  • Students will assist in completing Population Based Care activities that the agency is requesting in addition to individual care within that setting.
  • Students complete Focused Learning Activities (FLAs) outside of their time in clinical using data from the assigned agency's population. 
  • Preceptors can assist students' completion of FLAs by providing appropriate resources and/or interviews.
  • Population health (PH) preceptors are RNs or other clinicians who practice in a setting that both addresses the needs of an overall population, but may also focus on improving the health for the individuals of that population. 
  • The PH preceptor may work directly with a student, or may choose to facilitate learning opportunities with other staff members. 

Frequently Asked Questions by Preceptors

What is Population Health?
Does my site qualify as a Population Health Site?
How are Population Health sites selected?
Is Population Health different from community health or public health?
What grade does the student receive in this course?
What are the student's clinical attendance requirements?
Does the student always have to be with the preceptor when they are at the agency?
What is the dress code for the students?
What can the students chart in the medical record?
Do I evaluate the student?
What should I do if I have concerns about the student's professional conduct?

What is Population Health?
The term "population health" was coined in 2003 and defined as "the health outcomes of a group of individuals, including the distribution of such outcomes within the group" (Kindig & Stoddart, 2003, para. 2). The authors presented the rationale that the definition includes health outcomes, health determinants, policies, and interventions.

Does my site qualify as a Population Health Site?
Population health preceptors are in any setting including schools, hospitals, clinics, ambulatory care, hospice, and non-profit organizations. The population health lens can be applied to individuals, families, populations, or systems.

How are the clinical sites selected?
The clinical practicum sites for BSN population health students are in the Kansas City and Salina area.
The sites reflect the multidimensional aspects of population health including palliative care, hospice, school settings, ambulatory care, home health, non-profit organizations, and clinics.
Students typically spend one day, (eight hours) per week for six weeks at the clinical site.

Is Population Health different from community health or public health?
There is an ongoing discussion on the differences and similarities of each term regarding healthcare delivery (Rohloff, 2015). The population health preceptor may precept students from several area schools of nursing whose courses are titled community health or public health. Although schools have different titles for the courses, many have the same goals for preceptors based on (1) The Essentials of Baccalaureate Education for Professional Nursing Practice and (2) The 2018 Quad Council Competencies for Community/Public Health Nurses

What grade does the student receive in this course?
The Population Health Practicum course is a two (2) credit hour clinical course consisting of 120 clock hours. Students receive a pass or fail at the end of the course and not a letter grade.

What are the student's clinical attendance requirements?
Students are expected to be at the agency ready to start when the preceptor would normally start their responsibilities. Students, who are ill or unable to be at clinical, must contact the SON clinical faculty and the clinical agency. The preceptor should notify the SON clinical faculty anytime a student is not meeting these expectations. Please do not dismiss early without notifying the SON clinical faculty so they can arrange additional learning opportunities to make up for the hours.

Does the student always have to be with the preceptor when they are at the agency?
The student does not always have to be with the preceptor when they are doing clinical work at the agency. Students can work with other staff members as delegated by the primary preceptor and notification is made to 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 at the agency. 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.

Do I evaluate the student?
There will be ongoing communication with the nursing school faculty member who will ask for feedback. The faculty member will give the midterm and final evaluations. You will be given a form at the end of the rotation evaluating professional conduct.
Preceptors who are working with a student who is not demonstrating the ability to complete the course successfully 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.

What should I do if I have concerns about the student's professional conduct?
The ability of all students to conduct themselves in a manner consistent with appropriate professional nurse expectations is expected by the SON clinical faculty. 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 have any concerns about a student's conduct in any of these areas should contact the SON clinical faculty member immediately.

Benner, P. (1984). From novice to expert. Menlo Park.

Kindig, D., & Stoddart, G. (2003, March). What is population health? American Journal of Public Health, 93 (3), 380-383. Retrieved from

Kreimer, N., & Nelsen, K. (2018). Preceptor Orientation [Supplemental material]. In Partners in Population Health-KC (Comp.), BSN Population Health Practicum Goals

Rohloff, R. (2015). Population health, public health, community health - what difference does the terminology make? Retrieved from

Last modified: Dec 03, 2019