Public Safety Training Facility

Monroe Community College
Rochester, New York

MCC Paramedic Student Education

How to select a Preceptor

In some EMS systems, EMT-P Students have the opportunity to work with or select certain people to act as a mentor or preceptor. Because you will only be as good as the medic(s) you try to emulate, It is very important to choose carefully. If you work with several preceptors that give you conflicting training, always listen to the one who meets the following guidelines:


Are always interested in taking on students to learn. They don't pick and choose students, and they don't take days off from precepting.

Will actively and continuously engage you in conversation about the theory and science behind emergency work.

Don't always have the answer but say, "I don't know, that is a good question, Lets go look that up" and they do.

Have concern and care for people, whether they are patients or not.

Have concern and care for patients, whether it's close to quitting time or not

Quote studies that are reproducible, have large numbers, and really exist. (Always ask to see the study)

More often study from nursing, paramedical, and medical textbooks than from periodicals.

Are often involved in teaching EMS, ACLS, BTLS and so on.

Don't take medical care shortcuts that could hurt a patient because it's easier for them. (ie carries in all the equipment the nature of the call dictates.

Carry most all patients and all dyspnic and chest pain patients

Respect their protocols and Medical Control Physicians and caution you to always follow the rules.

Are concerned about malpractice law suites but not paralyzed by them.

Encourage KNOWLEDGE, SKILL and JUDGMENT equally as important in caring for patients.

Have confidence in their medical assessment and physical exam skills (including DTR's, percussion, heart sounds, breath sounds, etc)

Realize that there are at least five right ways to accomplish a task.

When confronted with a new medication or disease process, immediately after the call, learns about it and the EMS implications.

Are always impressed by the extra knowledge you might have, not threatened by it.


Frequently say things like - "why do you need to know that", "how is that going to help you treat your patient" "how is knowing that going to change your treatment?"

Often pride themselves on their quick times and physical skills

Documentation does not match the call as you saw it.

Are quick to make judgements and assessments without conducting a complete history and physical exam.

Will make their physical exam findings match the diagnosis they have in mind.

Remember you can learn from a bad medic.... you learn what not to do. Sometimes these lessons stay with you longer.

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Updated: February 26, 1998