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Clinical Nurse Specialist Preceptor Protocol

Bloomingdale, Rosina DNP, MSN, RN, AGCNS-BC, GCNS, APNP; Darmody, Julie V. PhD, RN, ACNS-BC

doi: 10.1097/NUR.0000000000000470
Feature Article

Purpose: Develop an evidence-based clinical nurse specialist (CNS) preceptor protocol to enhance preceptor’s skills and effectiveness and strengthen the preceptor-preceptee relationship and outcomes.

Description: An effective CNS preceptor is a key variable to quality, timely, and fiscally responsible CNS transition and retention. Most preceptors receive no formal education or skill development. Literature searched from the previous 10 years explored CNS preceptor, preceptee, and preceptorship process.

Outcomes: Protocol key components are development of the mutual collaborative relationship, shared meaning, understanding, goal setting, timelines, and evaluations. The planning phase of the protocol includes face-to-face meeting to identify overarching goals and establish a trusting collaborative relationship. The mutual iterative learning and growing phase includes identification of learning needs, goals, and strategies such as debriefing, reflective journaling, and mutual ongoing evaluation. The concluding phase includes formal evaluation. The outcome phase includes safe autonomous CNS practice, along with mutual growth and satisfaction.

Conclusions: The literature informed the CNS preceptor protocol development. The protocol may be evaluated within a preceptor-preceptee relationship across multiple settings. Higher levels of CNS research are vital to identify evidence-based CNS preceptorship strategies. As CNSs are integrated into advanced practice roles, a structured preceptor protocol and education program is critical to provide quality outcomes.

Author Affiliations: Clinical Assistant Professor (Dr Bloomingdale) and Clinical Associate Professor (Dr Darmody), College of Nursing, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee.

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Correspondence: Rosina Bloomingdale, DNP, MSN, RN, AGCNS-BC, GCNS, APNP, College of Nursing, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, PO Box 413 Milwaukee, WI 53201 (

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