Obesity is considered a growing epidemic in the United States. Nurse practitioners (NPs) have the opportunity to serve as leaders in addressing concerns related to disease management, particularly obesity. Currently, we lack an awareness of how NP students are learning obesity management from their preceptors.
Thus, the current study sought to explore how NP students perceive preceptors' behaviors when managing patients with obesity.
This study used a mixed-methods design. Participants were asked to report how often they observed their preceptors engage in different strategies when interacting with patients with obesity (e.g., calculate body mass index, identify goals). Students were then asked to respond to the statement: “share observations you made of how patients with obesity were treated in this environment.” Students completed 2 clinical rotations during this period and, thus, were asked to answer the questions twice to capture experiences at both clinical sites.
Researchers surveyed 225 NP students completing clinical rotations in 3 settings (Family Practice, Pediatrics, and Obstetrics/Gynecology).
Quantitative results revealed significant differences in the frequency of observed obesity management behaviors by all preceptors. Qualitative results revealed that NP students most often observed preceptors displaying interpersonal warmth without weight bias when working with patients with obesity. Contrary to current literature, this sample of NP students observed their preceptors engaging in positive interactions with individuals with obesity.
Implications for practice:
Educators must continue to teach students to engage in unbiased behavior toward patients. It is critical to continue to improve obesity management content offered in NP programs.