Yes, in most cases, you can complete your DNP internship at your place of employment, provided it is a practice setting that allows you to accumulate hours in your chosen role and patient population focus. For many working nurses, this means greater convenience and flexibility when juggling professional responsibilities with earning a DNP.
For most working RNs and APRNs, it just makes sense to complete the required DNP clinical hours at their place of employment. Provided you receive approval from both your employer and your internship advisor, you’ll be able to complete your DNP internship where you work.
What Are the Benefits of Completing My Internship Through My Place of Employment?
In one word—convenience.
Doing so will eliminate the need to travel to a separate location each time you need to complete your program’s clinical requirements. Beyond the sheer convenience of being able to accomplish both your professional responsibilities and your DNP internship requirements at the same location, you’ll likely benefit from a familiar work environment and a staff of familiar faces.
In most cases, you’ll be expected to take a proactive role in finding an internship site that best aligns with your DNP objectives. While choosing your place of employment may be the most convenient option for you, it’s important to remember to choose a clinical site that provides you with the best opportunity for learning and is consistent with the focus of your practicum and project.
Are There Any Limitations or Restrictions on Completing My Internship Through My Placement of Employment?
Yes, in most cases, both your employer and your program will have specific restrictions or limitations in place. You’ll likely find specific language that prohibits you from accruing any internship hours during your normal work time. You’ll also be prohibited from choosing an internship mentor (also often referred to as a preceptor) who acts as your direct supervisor or manager or is a family member or close friend. You also won’t be able to use a site you own or partially own.
Finally, internship activities at your place of employment should always be new experiences and must be separate and different from your normal work activities.
How Do I Arrange to Complete My Internship Hours Through My Place of Employment?
Before you can begin satisfying your internship hours through your place of employment, you’ll need to accomplish a few things:
- Receive approval from your university
- Receive approval from your place of employment
- Provide a signed contract (often referred to as an affiliate agreement) between your employer and university
- Choose an appropriate mentor/preceptor who is affiliated with the site where your internship will take place
- Provide a signed contract between your chosen preceptor and university
In many cases, this process can take months to complete, so most students interested in completing their DNP practicum at their place of employment should begin the process early in their program to ensure all necessary paperwork and approvals are in place before the internship begins. Your internship coordination team will work with you to approve the site and secure the necessary contracts.
How Do I Choose an Internship Mentor/Preceptor?
You’ll choose a mentor/preceptor at your place of employment who will serve as your source of guidance and support during your internship experience. The preceptor you choose must submit an updated CV/resume and sign a contract with your university that clearly outlines their responsibilities as your preceptor.
Your preceptor must have knowledge and expertise in your area of interest, must help you achieve your course objectives, and must be prepared to:
- Help you set goals that support the goal of the internship and align with the DNP Essentials
- Meet with you on a regular basis and provide feedback
- Provide evaluation reports to the program faculty
- Document and approve your practicum hours
Your university will have specific educational requirements in place regarding your preceptor. In most cases, your preceptor must have practice experience in nursing leadership; must hold a current and unencumbered RN license; and must have a doctoral degree from an accredited college or university.
Examples of internship preceptors may include licensed nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, nurse administrators, coordinators of care, and licensed physicians.