By Rabiya Bower, RD, LDN
Did you know April is National Preceptor Month? In 2013, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) named April National Preceptor Month to recognize and thank the health professionals who train, teach, guide, and mentor the next generation of registered dietitian nutritionists (RDN) and dietetic technicians registered (DTR). Additionally, the AND wanted to raise awareness of the need for preceptors – without current practitioners willing to teach students, our profession would not exist. Thinking about being a preceptor? Here are five benefits to being a preceptor.
1. It Looks Good
Are you looking to impress your supervisor, colleagues, or peers? Sign up to be a preceptor! Your knowledge is priceless and it looks good to share that expertise with a student. Many companies list mentoring as a skill set they wish more managers had, and this is one way to build up that leadership quality. Plus, once those students pass their RDN or DTR exam, you’ll have a whole group of colleagues singing your praises because of the invaluable experience you shared with them. So sign up to precept and develop a whole army of professional cheerleaders! You never know – you might even be nominated for the Outstanding Preceptor Award.
2. Learn New Skills
Keeping up with all the latest tech and apps is challenging. You know who’s great at it? Students! Whether you’re looking to expand your business reach with social media apps or streamline processes with the newest tech, many students have the knowledge to work through these applications intuitively. Have them teach you how to best manage your dietetics career with the use of technology.
If you’re looking to enhance your management skills, precepting is a great way to start. Whether you need to work on your supervision, delegating, or communication skills, working with interns and students will give you hands-on experience for a set amount of time. Building management skills takes work, and you’re able to practice them in a very controlled setting when working with students.
3. The Help!
Overwhelmed with projects? Need help organizing materials? Hosting a health fair but don’t have enough help? Start precepting! Interns and students come to you with a variety of skills and are so excited to learn about what you do. Whether it’s a new media segment to film, recipe to test, or educational material to develop, students love the opportunity to learn about your area of dietetics, whatever that may be. RDNs and DTRs need to know about more than just nutrition, so whatever other projects you have on your plate can be shared with students. You may need to fine-tune it before it’s ready for the public, but getting started is half the battle sometimes! Let a student build the foundation and you can enhance and adjust as necessary.
4. Free CPEUs
FREE CPEUs! As of June 1, 2017, preceptors may record a total of 15 CPEUs per 5-year cycle for precepting and/or leadership on your Activity Log. Plus, ACEND® has an 8.0 CPEU Preceptor Training Program available free of charge. Keeping your skill set up to date can get pricey, so earning free CPEUs just for helping someone else – sounds like a win-win situation (it is)!
5. Pay it Forward
According to ACEND®, in 2018, only 61% of applicants were matched to a dietetic internship program. There’s a lot of interest in the field, but students aren’t always able to get the necessary training to take the next steps and become an RDN or DTR. Preceptors can help alleviate this issues, whether you work with a local internship or future education model program, or work with distance interns in your area. You can sign up in the national preceptor database here. Not only do you get to share your experiences as a nutrition professional, but you’re positively contributing to the sustainability of profession moving forward!
So tell me, will you sign up to be a preceptor? If you have questions about precepting, I’m happy to answer them for you. Feel free to reach out on LinkedIn, Instagram, or e-mail me at Rabiya.Bower@Jefferson.edu
Rabiya Bower is the program coordinator for the upcoming MS/RDN program at Thomas Jefferson University. She’s worked for The GIANT Company, The Food Trust, Manor College, and WIC. She won the Pennsylvania Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Outstanding Preceptor Award for 2020. In her free time, she loves to have spontaneous dance parties in the kitchen with her daughter, test new fusion recipes, and review children and young adult books with strong Black and brown lead characters. Rabiya is the Scholarship & Awards Chair for PAND AME, and the Public Policy Coordinator-Elect for PhillyAND. She also volunteers with the mentor program for Diversify Dietetics.