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Preceptor Guidelines

Preceptor Program

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AHVAP wants to ensure you have a positive preceptor experience.

Setting the Scene

AHVAP is excited to offer you the opportunity to work 1-on-1 with a protégé from the value analysis field.  We hope you will find this a valuable process and that you will be able to share your experience and expertise from the field.  As you embark upon your preceptor relationship, we strongly encourage you to take a few minutes to plan for the relationship and how to make the most of the experience.

We encourage you to establish an agreement with your protégé regarding your preceptor relationship, mutual expectations and goals.  Suggested topics for discussion are:

  • Frequency of contact - How often do you and your protégé plan to communicate?  We generally recommend bi-weekly calls, transitioning to once a month, and as needed.
  • Absences from communication - Agree to let your partner know when you will not be able to maintain that frequency.
  • Duration of the relationship - relationships are designed to last 6 months, and can be renewed in 6 month increments.
  • Establishing goals - What do you really want to accomplish in this experience?
  • Agree to provide feedback

Suggested Behaviors for Preceptors

  1. Demonstrate interest, helpful intent, and involvement. When you talk with your protégé, clear your mind of unnecessary thoughts and distractions, so that you can give them your undivided attention.
  2. Establish rapport by learning or remembering personal information about the protégé.
  3. Begin by focusing on the protégé’s strengths and potentials rather than limitations.
  4. Keep in frequent contact with your protégé. Even a short email or phone call can make a big difference.
  5. Be available and keep office hours and appointments.
  6. Follow up on protégé commitments and goals.
  7. Don't be critical of others to your protégé.
  8. Consistently evaluate the effectiveness of your mentoring and adjust accordingly.
  9. Be yourself and give your protégé room to be themselves.
  10. Remember that active listening is one of the most important skills of a good preceptor.

Suggested Activities for Preceptors

The following are activities that we suggest you do with your protégé if you are able to meet them in person.  The AHVAP Education Conference & Supplier Showcase, a Regional Meeting, and other industry meetings are all great opportunities to meet face to face.

  1. Engage in lunch meetings discussing different topics including industry challenges, recent lessons learned, career planning, and applicable certifications or education.
  2. Introduce colleagues and industry contacts to your protégé.
  3. Offer a tour of your facilities and department.
  4. Show your protégé some of your favorite places in your town/city - places they might otherwise never discover.
  5. Attend cultural and sporting events together.

Social Connectedness

As you know, developing and maintaining quality relationships can enrich your life and empower you to achieve your goals. By meeting people, connecting with them, and keeping in touch, you are constantly networking. We hope you will share your advice, approach, and insight into networking with your protégé. Some suggestions on what you can share are:

  • You may want to let them know how you found your current job or received a promotion, meet clients, or completed a recent project through networking.
  • You may want to share ideas about communication skills, active listening, body language, eye contact, finding common interests over which to connect, complimenting, smiling, etc.
  • If you have techniques for networking, such as an opening line when meeting people, a list of getting-to-know-you questions, or a list of ideas for casual conversation, these may be helpful for your protégé.
  • Ideas of what may be considered bad networking practice may be helpful as well, such as contacting long-forgotten connections only when you need something (e.g. a job referral).
  • Finally, we hope you will be willing to share your contacts with your protégé as they might help them reach their goals.

Goal Setting

In order to have a successful mentoring relationship, we are encouraging your protégé to set the pace and direction for what they hope to accomplish through mentoring and to explore with you the ways in which you can assist them in reaching these goals.
We asked your protégé to read the following questions and sample answers and try to develop some goals for themselves.

  • What are your goals for this mentoring relationship? (e.g. learning best practices, honing management skills, defining a career path)
  • How will you know if you reached these goals? (e.g. improved performance, enhanced confidence, plan for personal development)
  • What challenges can you anticipate? (e.g. project priority, job market is slow, organization's limitations)

Additionally, we encourage you to take a moment to reflect on any personal goals you wish to set. Other than reaping the intrinsic benefits of being a preceptor (the rewards for reaching out to others, etc.), is there anything you wish to develop? Are you interested in improving your mentoring, communication, listening, or leadership skills? Are you seeking greater self-awareness and fresh perspectives through the mentoring of another?
Determining some goals toward personal development can help you to benefit even greater from your mentoring relationship.

Positive Mentoring Traits

Certain traits are considered ideal for good preceptors and protégés. We hope the following serve as a useful refresher for your mentoring relationship with your protégé.

  1. Inspire.
    What makes preceptors effective may rest in the ability to inspire their protégés. By setting an example, you may be able to motivate your protégé onto future paths beyond their original dreams. Challenge your protégé to find importance in what they aspire to do and help create future visions for her/himself.
  2. Be an Active Listener.
    A sign of good listening is that your protégé feels she/he has been heard and understood. It allows your protégé to feel accepted by you and thus allows your mentoring relationship to build trust. Remembering or showing interest in things your protégé mentioned in the past is one form of active listening and is likely to be appreciated by your protégé.
  3. Share Similar Experiences.
    Preceptors are not expected to be super heroines or heroes. Most of the time, we find they are people who have already experienced similar situations as their protégés. By sharing your past experiences, you can help your protégé feel more empowered to tackle their challenges successfully.
  4. Provide Corrective Feedback in an Encouraging Manner.
    All of us have probably found ourselves acting defensively at one time or another when we received feedback. Taking feedback well is not always easy and hearing it in a motivating, encouraging tone can help your protégé to accept and apply it readily.
  5. Speak of Your Protégé in Positive or Neutral Ways.
    Trusting that your discussions are confidential and that the mentoring relationship is mutually supportive are important building blocks for the mentoring relationship. When speaking of your protégé to others, provide only positive or neutral comments.

Communication is Key

Speaking to someone on the phone or in person allows them to use hand gestures, facial expressions, and voice modulation for conveying meaning. However, this must be replaced in other forms when one can only rely on emails. The following are some ideas that we believe are critical to a mentoring relationship:

  1. Meaningful Subject Line.
    One major reason for a good subject line is to ensure your recipient's recognition of your message and avoid an accidental delete. Another reason is that it will immediately give your protégé a clear idea of what your message contains and what it is you want to discuss.
  2. Clear and Concise Messages.
    Did your protégé make their point clear? Do you understand what they are saying? Asking for clarification will allow your protégé to restate, elaborate, or reconsider what it is they are trying to convey.  More words are not better!
  3. Investigating Assumptions.
    Your protégé may not have stated their assumptions, but can they be understood? What are the underlying assumptions in the question or message? Stating your understanding of it or asking your protégé about them can be useful toward preventing misinterpretations.
  4. Communicating About Communication.
    We cannot stress enough the importance of letting each other know your schedules in advance. This helps to prevent communication breakdown, which often results in unnecessary frustration.
  5. Easily Connect Online.
    Getting acquainted over the web can be quite convenient. Many find it comfortable, but a few do not. If you are looking for ways to connect on-line, the following are a few suggestions on topics to share with your protégé:
  • Job(s), hobbies, and extracurricular activities
  • Research, projects, or career-related accomplishments
  • How you balance work with your personal life
  • Your favorite class in college, favorite book, etc.

 Do not forget to learn about your protégé by asking them questions, too!

Keeping it fresh

There might be times in your mentoring relationship when things might become a little stagnant and a spark might be the need of the day. At such times, we recommend the following:

  • Revisit the goals that you have set for your mentoring partnership and for yourself. Are you on course to achieve what you had set out to do?
  • Could you have done something better? A renewed vigor can help you and your partner move forward.
  • Do you think you need to extend the mentoring period? Learning, as they say, never stops.

Re-energizing the relationship goes a long way in ensuring success of the partnership.

Exit Strategy

Some mentoring partnerships end with successful completion of learning goals. Some do not for a host of reasons. Even unproductive or unsatisfactory mentoring relationships can benefit from having a good closure experience. The key to successful closure is being prepared with an exit strategy. A good exit strategy has five components:

  • A learning conclusion (processing of the learning that went on in the relationship while working toward achievement of learning goals)
  • A process for integrating what was learned (a conversation focusing on how to apply the learning and taking it to the next level)
  • A meaningful way of celebrating success (collaboratively planning a mutually satisfying way to celebrate successful achievement of goals, or a particular accomplishment)
  • A conversation focusing on redefining the relationship (talking about how the relationship is to continue, whether it moves from professional mentoring relationship to colleague, friendship, or ceases to exist at all)
  • Moving on (letting go by both partners and identifying ways to keep in touch, if appropriate and/or mutually desired)

As you and your protégé near the completion of your mentoring partnership, they may wonder whether their takeaways from the mentoring relationship will smooth their transition into future endeavors. They may have loose ends yet to tie and some fears about moving on.
We now encourage you and your protégé to discuss your protégé’s transition from their current position to their post-mentoring endeavors. You may be in a position to help your protégé better prepare for what lies ahead and thus reduce the anxieties they may have about the changes that await just around the corner. Your advice could help them realize their full potential.
Nothing can replace experience!

Follow Up

Program Evaluation/Exit Survey - At the end of the mentoring period, you will be asked to fill out a short evaluation of the program. We rely on your feedback to improve our programs.  Please speak freely and provide constructive feedback.
Problems and Suggestions - If at any time you have any problems with, or suggestions regarding your mentoring experience, please let us know at We are here to help!

If you, at any time during your mentoring connection, feel that you cannot fulfill your part of this commitment, please do let us and your protégé know.  Also, if you feel that your protégé is having trouble maintaining the relationship, tell us that too. We are committed to helping all of our members find their way to successful mentoring relationships.

Good luck, and have fun!


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