Potential conflict can occur if there is a conflict of interest between the student and preceptor. Cultural differences related to communication with patients and other providers can cause conflict. The competence level of the student may be less than what the preceptor anticipated or what is needed for the patient population. The preceptor may realize that he or she does not have the time to dedicate to the student’s learning or have the ability to address the student’s poor clinical performance. The clinical site may prohibit the student from participating in needed experiences (for example, a male NP student in an OB/GYN clinic). The student may be delegated to duties expected by staff rather than by a provider.

Many, if not all, of these identified conflicts can be avoided by direct communication between the student and preceptor at the initial meeting. A review of course and independent student objectives, student strengths and areas for growth, preceptor and site expectations, and a shared commitment to a positive experience are needed to avoid potential conflict.

Clinical faculty are available to assist both preceptors and students should conflict occur, and faculty should be contacted directly by the preceptor for any patient safety, privacy, ethical, or professional conduct issues or a belief that the student will not achieve the intended objectives. The clinical faculty member will collaborate with the preceptor on a plan for remediation or initiate disciplinary action as appropriate.

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