Standard 2

Collaboration in Implementing the Program

Collaboration in Implementing the Program Sponsors of the school nurse preparation program establish collaborative arrangements with other institutions and entities that contribute substantively to the quality and effectiveness of the design and implementation of candidate preparation.

Sponsors of the School Nurse Credential Program establish collaborative arrangements with other institutions and entities that contribute substantively to the quality and effectiveness of the design and implementation of candidate preparation. These arrangements include collaboration between School Nurse Credential Program providers and local education agencies for purposes of providing appropriate practicum and other fieldwork relating directly to the practice of school nursing.  Participants cooperatively establish and review the terms of the agreements, including well-defined roles, responsibilities and relationships.

Criterion 1: These arrangements address significant aspects of professional preparation, and include collaboration between school nurse preparation program providers and local education agencies.

Collaborative arrangements are made between the university and a school district or County Office of Education that then allows a candidate to take a practicum experience through that particular agency. Candidates are licensed Registered Nurses with diverse nursing practices and may have limited or extensive educational setting experiences. Collaboration is therefore with the university and local educational agency which allows a credentialed school nurse to act as a preceptor who in turn takes into consideration the individual needs of each candidate and their prior level of preparation. This collaboration provides practical experience in the school setting under the supervision of a qualified and experienced preceptor who advises guides and mentors the candidate while working closely within the specific guideline of the clinical instructor. These arrangements without a doubt contribute substantively to the quality and effectiveness of the design and implementation of candidate preparation. Candidates in the online program reside in areas throughout California. While classroom discussions related to the candidate’s field experiences takes place in the online program once classes begin, arrangements for a practicum experience in the candidate’s own area must start well before the beginning of the semester. In April of each year, candidates, who have been accepted into the program for the fall semester, receive directions regarding the need to establish themselves with a qualified preceptor as soon as possible. As a start, candidates are asked to speak with their own school nurse supervisor (if practicing as a school nurse) or to contact a school nursing supervisor, or director of Health Services, in their area for assistance in locating a qualified school nurse preceptor (see qualifications below). The credential program coordinator is available to speak with school nurse administrators in behalf of candidates. Once a qualified preceptor has been identified, that perspective preceptor must have the written approval of his/her immediate supervisor to function in that capacity. If there is not a Student Intern Agreement (University-Agency Agreement) in place between the university and that agency, the immediate supervisor is then asked to share the name and contact information of the administrator in that school district or County Office of Education who is responsible for negotiating contracts between agencies. This information is shared with the university Contract Coordinator whose responsibility it is to initiate a University & Agency Agreement between California State University, Fresno and the agency, which may take up to a month or more if school board approval is necessary. Once in effect, the agreement is viable for five years. Once the University-Agency Agreement is in place, the Preceptor-Student Contract can be signed and the candidate is ready to begin his/her practicum experience once the semester begins. Note: At the end of five years, the University-Agency Agreement is renegotiated as necessary.

Arrangements address significant aspects of professional preparation, and include collaboration between school nurse preparation program providers and local education agencies.

Supportive Documentation:
Student Intern Agreement (University-Agency Agreement), Sec. 3, p. 412
NURS 186/NURS 187 Preceptor Syllabus, Sec. 3, p. 367

Criterion 2: Participants cooperatively establish and review the terms of the agreements, including well-defined roles, responsibilities and relationships.

Qualified and dedicated school nurse preceptors are highly valued and appreciated by faculty in the program. This credential program could not meet the experiential needs of candidates without competent dedicated school nurse preceptors in the field. School nurses who act as preceptors are screened by faculty and must meet qualifying criteria. Each school nurse who serves as preceptor to one or more school nursing students is credentialed and experienced in school nursing and must be jointly selected by the institution and an authorized school district official; and they must be oriented to the roles, rights, and responsibilities of school nursing students and preceptors; and appropriately evaluated, recognized and rewarded by the institution. To qualify as a school nurse preceptor, a school nurse must have five full years of school nursing experience, hold a professional School Nurse Services Credential, and be approved to function in that capacity by an immediate supervisor. The school nurse must also be practicing school nursing at the educational level (elementary or secondary) in which the candidate is expected to take their practicum experience for that particular semester. Preceptors must also submit vitae that are reviewed by the candidate’s clinical instructor, who will give final approval of the school nurse to act as the student’s preceptor. Preceptor vitae are kept on in the credential program office for four years. Clinical instructors may recommend a qualified preceptor to a candidate or the candidate may locate a potential preceptor though a Director of Health Services in their area who will then be approved by program faculty. Larger school districts are asked to poll their school nurses for volunteers to serve as preceptors each semester. Lastly, before a school nurse can assume the duties of a preceptor, a University-Agency Agreement must be in place as previously noted.

Clinical instructors contact preceptors in the beginning of the semester to review roles and responsibilities for the preceptor, the student (candidate), and the clinical instructor. The preceptors and clinical instructor exchange contact information to communicate with each other throughout the semester with any questions or concerns. This provides an opportunity for the instructor to redirect clinical experiences in order to improve the quality of the candidate’s preparation. Conferences between the preceptor, student, and clinical instructor are arranged as a point of contact to clarify issues and resolve any problems. Each semester, between the 7th and 11th week, candidates are held responsible for initiating a mandatory 3-way on-site visit or telephone conference between the preceptor, the clinical instructor and themselves. Candidate responsibility involves arranging date, time, place for the conference and notifying the clinical instructor who will then initiate the conference, either a site visit or a telephone conference for distance learners. The purpose of the conference is an opportunity for the three parties to review student practicum progress, accomplishments, and plans for the remainder of the semester. Preceptors receive a Preceptor Syllabus before the beginning of the semester and candidates review the Preceptor Syllabus together, so that both parties have a clear understanding of course expectations. Candidates also review the course syllabus (NURS186 or NURS187) with their preceptor to give the preceptor insight into course objectives and student assignment deadlines.

The preceptor acts as a role model for the candidate and provides guidance, mentoring, and support. Together the preceptor and the candidate work out a suitable schedule that will meet the needs of both parties. Preceptors work to provide the candidate with a well rounded and meaningful clinical experience reflective of a true school nurse practice. Throughout the semester, preceptors are available to candidates and work directly with them for the prescribed number of hours. At the end of the semester, preceptors meet with the candidate to review accomplishments and competencies, evaluate strengths as well as identify areas that may need further improvement. Candidates have a responsibility to act professionally, work with their preceptor to achieve their goals and objectives, and maintain a congenial working relationship with those in whom they come in contact. The candidate’s clinical instructor maintains open communication with the candidate and the preceptor and is available to support and encourage. At the end of the semester, students have an opportunity to evaluate their preceptor’s performance and effectiveness (See Student Evaluation of Preceptor Experience). Faculty reviews these evaluations and uses them to best determine future student placements. If student comments are unfavorable, and it is determined by faculty that the comments are justified, that school nurse is not invited to precept future students.

Appreciation is expressed to preceptors in the beginning of the semester, during conferences, and at the end of the semester. Preceptors are invited to network with faculty at annual CSNO (California School Nurse Organization) conferences during University School Nurse Educator/Student Caucuses. Program faculty members also network with preceptors in the Central Valley area at local school nurse meetings and during CSNO Central Valley Section meetings. Students are encouraged to invite their preceptors to student networking luncheons in their local areas, and to consider inviting them to an appreciation luncheon at the end of each semester. At the end of the semester, the program coordinator sends a letter of thanks to preceptors, along with a Certificate of Appreciation. It is the intention of the program coordinator to also send the preceptor’s immediate administrator/supervisor a email expressing appreciation for allowing an employee to act in the capacity of a preceptor, and express appreciation for the preceptor for their professional commitment to mentor a school nurse student(s) in the program.

Participants cooperatively establish and review the terms of the agreements, including well-defined roles, responsibilities and relationships.

Supportive Documentation:
Student Intern Agreement (University-Agency Agreement), Sec. 3, p. 411
NURS 186/NURS 187 Preceptor Syllabus, Sec. 3, p. 366

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