Partnerships for Learning Population-Based Public Health Nursing: Web-Delivered Continuing Education for Public Health Nurse Preceptors


Susan J. Zahner, School of Nursing, University of Wisconsin-Madison, H6/246 CSC, 600 Highland Avenue, Madison, WI 53792-2455. E-mail:


ABSTRACT Public health and other community health nurses frequently serve as preceptors to undergraduate student nurses learning population-based nursing in community/public health practicum courses. The extent of preparation and support for the preceptor role provided by schools of nursing is often limited. One strategy to address this problem is to provide targeted, Web-delivered continuing education (CE) to preceptors. A Web-delivered CE course entitled, “Partnerships for Learning Community Health Nursing,” was created and pilot tested. Course content includes preceptor roles; assisting students in learning population-based public health nursing, critical thinking, and cultural competence; learning styles and teaching strategies; what to do in challenging situations; evaluation and feedback; and specific information about school policies, procedures, and course assignments. Precourse knowledge was assessed using a mailed survey. Postcourse knowledge and satisfaction were assessed using questions embedded in the course. Postsemester knowledge and satisfaction were evaluated through a postsemester survey. Knowledge gain was tested using repeated measures ANOVA and paired t tests. Thirteen preceptors participated in the pilot test. Repeated measures ANOVA indicated that knowledge gain occurred (multivariate F=55.603, df=2, error df=11, p<.0001). Participants increased knowledge from pretest to posttest (t=−10.25, p<.00001) and from pretest to end of the semester (t=−4.95, p<.0003). Knowledge decline from end of course to end of semester was not significant (t=1.94, p=.08). Participants reported satisfaction with the course. Web-delivered CE for community/public health nurse preceptors can support preceptor learning and is an acceptable method for receiving this type of education. Further research is needed on the impact of preceptor education on student learning.