Date of Award

Spring 5-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Nursing and Allied Health Professions

First Advisor

Susan G. Poorman, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Michele A. Gerwick, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Edith A. West, Ph.D.


Preceptorship in nursing education, pairing a student with an experienced nurse in a clinical setting, is a popular method of clinical instruction that may be used throughout the nursing curriculum or as a culminating experience in the last semester of the nursing program. Although many studies have been conducted regarding the preceptor, preceptee, and their relationship, there is limited literature describing the associate degree student’s perception of this experience. The purpose of this qualitative descriptive study was to explore the experiences of ten associate degree nursing students being precepted in the last semester of their entry-level nursing program. Using semi-structured, open-ended, face-to-face interviews, students’ perceptions of this 60-hour practicum were obtained. Content analysis elicited five helping themes of getting experience, being supported, becoming confident, learning to prioritize, and feeling independent, as well as one hindering theme of foreboding beginnings. Although there was support for some of the identified themes in the previous literature, this study found learning to prioritize, feeling independent and foreboding beginnings were new themes not identified in in previous research literature. Knowledge regarding effective and ineffective aspects of preceptorship as perceived by students may enable educators to highlight the positive aspects of the experience and minimize the challenges. This may result in a more enriched learning experience for students.