Preceptor Interview with Kristen Campbell, PNP-BC – Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

About Kristen Campbell, PNP-BC: Kristen Campbell is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner at New York Methodist Hospital, where she provides medical care and evaluations, as well as regular health monitoring, to acute and subacute patients with ages ranging from infancy to 20 years. As a pediatric nurse practitioner, Ms. Campbell provides physical and psychological assessments, makes medical diagnoses, writes prescriptions, conducts follow-ups and referrals, coordinates patient intakes and transfers, and performs standard emergency care procedures such as splinting and laceration repairs.

In addition to her clinical work with patients, Ms. Campbell is also a clinical educator for nursing and medical students as a Clinical Faculty member at Columbia University. Prior to her role at New York Methodist Hospital, Ms. Campbell worked as a Clinical Nurse at New York Presbyterian Hospital, serving patients in the Hematology, Oncology, Bone Marrow Transplant Department, as well as the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.
Ms. Campbell received her Bachelor of Arts in Human Development with an emphasis in Community, Advocacy, & Social Policy from Boston College in 2007. She went on to earn her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science from Columbia University’s School of Nursing in 2012 and 2013, respectively.

Interview Questions

[] May we please have a brief description of your educational and professional background?

[Kristen Campbell, PNP-BC] After a degree in Human Development and Psychology at Boston College, I realized nursing was a perfect field for me. I moved to New York City to begin the BSN-MSN program at Columbia University. After completing my second Bachelor’s, I was selected for the new graduate internship program in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at New York Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital. I worked in both the PICU and Heme/Onc/BMT units while completing my Masters degree and becoming a board certified pediatric nurse practitioner. I was offered a position in the Pediatric Emergency Department at New York Methodist Hospital after a clinical rotation and I have been working, learning, and teaching there ever since. I have maintained my relationship with Columbia University by taking PNP students in the ER for the past 2 years.

[] Could you please describe your past and current responsibilities as a Clinical Faculty member at Columbia University School of Nursing? How do you collaborate with your students to set learning objectives for the academic term, what kinds of tasks/responsibilities are your students expected to take on, and what kinds of guidance do you provide them with?

[Kristen Campbell, PNP-BC] As a clinical faculty member at Columbia, I am responsible for taking 1-2 students in the ER to work with me clinically and show them the ropes in pediatric emergency medicine. Some students are in their first semester of clinicals with no prior nursing experience while others have been working as an RN and are mere weeks away from graduating. At the start of each semester, I ask my students what they feel comfortable with, what they feel uncomfortable with, and what, ideally, they want to see more of and try during their time in the ED. While I try to tailor each student’s experience to their interests and needs, we can never predict exactly what will and will not walk in the door on any given day. But that’s the beauty of the ER–there will always be something new to learn!

[] In your opinion, what is the ideal working relationship between preceptor and student? Is it more collegial or is it structured more like a mentor-mentee relationship? How frequently do you typically interact with your students on a daily and weekly basis, and for what span of time during students’ clinical placements?

[Kristen Campbell, PNP-BC] For me, the ideal working relationship is one of mutual respect. I have respect for my students no matter where they are in their schooling as long as they are willing to show up and work hard. I’m fortunate to be paired with one student each semester so we can build a relationship of trust and work together to care for the patients we see. We work hard and see a lot during our 12-hour shifts together so there is definitely a bond formed over the course of the semester. I challenge my students to always try new things, whether it’s performing their first pelvic exam, IV placement, suturing, or interpreting labs values or imaging studies. My hope is that my students know I challenge them because I have confidence in them, and that they feel empowered by and proud of the things they accomplish during their rotation.

[]For graduate nursing students, clinical placements are an opportunity to apply what they have learned in their classes to actual patient scenarios, and to gradually step into the role of a provider. Could you explain what goes into this transition from registered nurse to health care provider?

[Kristen Campbell, PNP-BC] I’d like to start by saying that I think the best NPs are the ones who don’t forget their roots. Every one of us got the RN behind our name before the NP. My experiences as a bedside nurse challenged and shaped me in ways I’ll never forget. Whether I was administering medications I would someday prescribe or recognizing a clinical change that required immediate intervention, my time as an RN taught me to pay attention to details, to advocate for my patients and their families, and to trust my clinical instincts. Working in the Pediatric ICU and Hematology/Oncology Unit while I was working towards my advanced degree gave me the opportunity to put on an NP hat while working as a bedside nurse. I would try to ask thoughtful questions on rounds and come up with treatment plans and care goals in my head before they were developed by the team. I checked dosing on orders and tried to offer helpful suggestions to newer residents based on my intimate knowledge of my patients and their families. There is ample opportunity to think like an NP while you’re working at the bedside, and being at the bedside gives you direct and sometimes immediate feedback about which interventions work, which don’t, and why. While I respect that every student, schedule, and journey is different, I think RN experience before becoming an APRN is invaluable. I believe that I am a more confident, compassionate, and knowledgeable NP because I always remember that I was a nurse first.

I would also argue that clinicals is another place you get to try on and test out your NP hat. Depending on your site, your preceptor, and your willingness to take initiative, you may only be trying it on briefly to see how it feels and you may be wearing it for 10-12 hours a day, preparing for practice of your own. Being proactive during your clinicals is the best way to learn. I think my greatest asset during clinical rotations was my understanding that caring for a patient is a team effort and that you can learn from every member of that team. As a student, I tried to squeeze as much out of my clinicals as possible. If there was downtime in the NP role, I sought opportunities to learn from the nurses, the fellows, nursing leadership, the social workers, the child life specialists, even the unit clerks. Find the people who are passionate about their work and learn from them. I strongly believe that the best environment for a new APRN is in a team setting, where you can learn from members of a multidisciplinary team and share your knowledge and experience back. Wherever you are in your journey on the road to becoming an NP, I believe that curiosity and appreciation for the people you work with (whether for a few weeks or the rest of your career) will get you far.

[] What are some of the primary questions and concerns your students have when preparing for and completing their clinical placements? How do you help your student address these concerns?

[Kristen Campbell, PNP-BC] Most often, my students have questions or concerns about being “on their own” when they finish school and start their practices. My answer is always the same. I tell my students that they should not take any position where they don’t have a strong team, where they don’t feel adequately supported. I love that my students get to see how our team works in the ER. From the techs and the nurses to the NPs and fellows to the attendings and administration, we care for our patients together. If I have abnormal lab values, I’ll run them by the fellow and/or attending for an opinion. If the attending isn’t sure about a rash, he or she will ask my opinion. Practicing medicine is hard–things aren’t always black and white and just like they look in the textbook. As a new provider, it is important to know your limitations and have a team and/or support system you can trust.

[] What have been some of your most educational and/or rewarding experiences thus far as a preceptor? On the other hand, what challenges have you encountered as a preceptor, and how have you managed these challenges? How will you translate what you have learned into your work as a preceptor in the future?

[Kristen Campbell, PNP-BC] In general, I find it most rewarding when I can see my students starting to feel more comfortable and confident in their assessments, procedures, and management. My most memorable moment was last semester when my student fit in seamlessly with our team during a chaotic couple of hours where we had two notifications at the same time, status epilepticus and a premature neonatal septic work-up in respiratory distress. My student remained calm, assisted with medication administration, and (literally) ran to the pharmacy to pick up antibiotics for the neonatal sepsis.

I find it most challenging when students don’t seem engaged or excited. I have seen this in some of our medical students who aren’t interested in pediatrics and/or emergency medicine. Luckily, I have had interested and excited PNP students each semester, and I hope that trend continues. As a student, you don’t have to fall in love with each clinical setting, but you should always be looking to learn something. Whether it’s a new skill, a kid-friendly exam tip, or knowledge of interpreting imaging or lab studies, there should always be something to learn and something to incorporate into your practice.

[] For current and prospective MSN students, what advice do you have for them in terms of making the most of their clinical placements?

[Kristen Campbell, PNP-BC] My best advice is to be proactive! Take the opportunities that are given to you and seek out the experiences you feel passionately about. Work hard, be professional, and make connections during your rotations–you never know who might be hiring when you graduate. I currently work and precept full-time in the ER I rotated through, and now we are in the process of credentialing one of my former students (mentioned above) to work with us per diem. Take initiative and show your appreciation for great preceptors and clinical placements. Dream big and chase dream jobs!

Balancing classes and clinical (and possibly an RN job) can be exhausting, and no one wants to burn out before they’ve even started their career. Take on volunteer work or other career development (language classes, etc) only if you have the energy to do so and only if your heart is in it. You need to care for yourself to be able to care for others. Find a balance that will work for you.

[] What advice do you have for nurse practitioners who would like to become preceptors, in terms of preparing for this role? Why did you decide to become a clinical preceptor, and what steps did you have to take to become a preceptor?

[Kristen Campbell, PNP-BC] I decided to become a preceptor when I was approached by Columbia coordinators, who were looking for more clinical rotation options. I was nervous to start precepting so early into my NP career, but I’ve loved every minute of it. If you are interested in being a preceptor but feel you are too inexperienced, my best advice is to just do it! Part of the beauty for students is seeing that you don’t have to know all of the answers, that it’s okay to look things up, that our education will continue long after we leave the classroom. We all remember those great clinical rotations and we all remember the less-than-stellar ones. If you think you can give a student an experience that will be great, don’t hesitate another minute!

Thank you Ms. Campbell for participating in our Nursing Preceptor interview series!

About the Author: Kaitlin Louie is the Managing Editor of, and creates informational content that aims to assist students in making informed decisions about graduate programs. She earned her BA & MA in English from Stanford University.