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Practicum Site Quality Profile Reseach


Anyone preparing to become a long term care administrator must complete an applied field experience (or “Practicum”) prior to being licensed. While there is a limited amount of research that suggests the Practicum experience has a strong influence on future success, the research that is available advocates that the Practicum/AIT experience has a strong influence on what a future career entails. Therefore, the Practicum experience is unique and critical to the effective development of health care administration competencies. The Practicum Quality Profile research is intended to establish approaches which will identify critical variables that are associated with a quality Practicum/AIT experience, our goal is to help provide the best education and training for future administrators. We are looking at four main domains:

  • The Learning Environment
  • Preceptor Characteristics
  • Organizational Performance Factors
  • Site Characteristics

With these categories we are finding information as to what factors of each domain are critical in determining success.

Our research team has surveyed and gathered information regarding the four domains from experts in the field (listed below), assembled their feedback and refined our data to get an overall better definition of what a quality experience entails. This generates an opportunity for benchmarking in the future and allows for a potential practicum site as well as the field overall to better define a quality experience. Knowing what qualities enhance the learning experience, as well as what “higher quality sites” characteristics are, allows for less than ideal sites to better understand the challenges they are facing, and what necessary changes are needed to make improvements. This research, focused on high impact practices, will be useful in the selection of quality sites and/or less than ideal circumstances to help the trainee better understand challenges they are facing to maximize their experience. Overall, knowing these quality characteristics allows the trainee to achieve competency in the skill sets necessary for a successful long term care administrator.

This research will provide much value to the Health Care Administration program, the students involved, and the community partners who serve as practicum sites. We expect that this research will better assist corporations and state licensing boards across the country, who are also seeking strategies to best prepare future long term care administrators.


The Commonwealth Fund
NAB Foundation
Center for Health Administration and Aging Services Excellence (CHAASE)
University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Office of Research and Sponsored Programs

» Click here for a copy of the final white paper describing the results and recommendation of the Practicum Site Quality Profile project

Expert panels providing feedback:

  • Center for Health Administration and Aging Services Excellence who are representing providers and academic communities
  • National Board of Examiners for Long Term Care Administrators (NAB) representing licensing agencies and academic communities
  • Both the Academy for Long Term Care Leadership and Development and the American College of Health Care Administrators Board representing the broader profession
  • We have also reached into other areas to connect with consumers, government agencies and provider initiatives
    • HCAD students, current preceptors, CMS, and more

Recent activity:

We have provided reports of our initial findings to the NAB Foundation, Academic Forum and Education Committee and the Academy for Long term Care Leadership and Development at their 2011 Fall Meetings.

We have developed a white paper, Advancing Practices to Enhance the Field Experience of Developing Long Term Care Administrator. This comprehensive and robust document includes an overview of the project, a description of the methodology of our efforts, the results and recommendations for the field. After a careful review by key stakeholders involved in the project, this white paper will be publically available in February 2012.

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