Nursing homes and long-term care facilities are in dire need of well-trained administrators. Identifying the most efficient and effective way of developing this talent pool is critical, as more people are leaving the field than entering it. One key factor in the professional development of new trainees is field experience. This Commonwealth Fund–supported study looks at factors that are associated with successful field experience, also known as a practicum.
What the Study Found
The researchers first conducted a literature review, panel discussions with professionals in the field, focus groups with recent graduates, and a survey of stakeholders to identify potential factors. They next examined the relationship between these factors and student outcomes, using test scores as a proxy for practicum effectiveness. The following factors had a significant association with students’ success:
- the preceptor’s (or mentor’s) length of time at the organization, number of students mentored, activity in professional and trade organizations, and education level;
- students’ access to adequate technology, personal workspace, computer, and phone;
- the likelihood that former students would recommend the facility as a training site;
- employees’ attendance at state conferences and other teaching or university relationships;
- facilities’ participation in the Advancing Excellence nursing home quality campaign, or receipt of a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Five-Star Quality Rating; and
- facilities’ provision of a variety of services.
These study’s findings could inform efforts to establish minimum qualifications for a preceptor or practicum site. Ultimately, the authors conclude, successful approaches to field experience will lead to better trained professionals in the field.