Three alumni from the Master of Science in Nursing program were featured by Mass General Brigham to commemorate National Mentoring Month in January.

The nurse practitioners - Leiba Savitt, MS-NU ’06, Diane Hazel, MS-NU ’14, and Michelle Quirk, MS-NU ’11 - each talked about their experiences working one-on-one with students (including IHP students), the challenges and rewards, and what motivates them to play a critical role in support of MGB patients and care teams.

Savitt is the advanced practice provider (APP) manager at the Massachusetts General Hospital Division of Gastrointestinal and Oncologic Surgery and the senior APP at the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Pelvic Floor Disorders. She has been precepting for more than 10 years. 

Why do you precept?  It prevents me from getting into a rut in my day-to-day work. When I’m with a student, they’re asking questions that challenge me to think about things differently and question things that maybe I hadn’t before. I love teaching as well. My father was a teacher, my mother was a teacher, and my husband is a teacher — it’s in my blood. Precepting is different than standing and giving a lecture, and it keeps you fresh and on your toes.

I also have hired many of my nurse practitioner (NP) students to join our staff. The semester(s) we work together can serve as an extended job interview. All three of our current full-time NPs were my students at some point and now they are preceptors as well.

How do you manage given limited bandwidth? If the clinic is running behind, I’m not sending the student in to start a visit with a patient. I let them know that they’ll be watching. Afterwards, if we have time to go over and process the visit together, I may let them write the post-visit summary (note) or I may write it to keep things moving. You learn to manage your time and be flexible when you need to be. Working as a team also is helpful — sometimes a student will shadow a colleague in the operating room for a day to learn something new. That gives students a better, more diverse experience and eases a bit of the burden on me.

Can students make your life easier? Absolutely, they can. Early on, it takes time and energy to get them up to speed. But talented students can eventually take on responsibilities, such as documenting, that is a huge support and helps the clinic run more smoothly.


Hazel is a pediatric nurse practitioner at the Mass General Brigham Community Physicians practice in Andover. She began precepting for her current practice in 2022 but previously worked with students at a community health center in Boston.   

Why do you precept? For a combination of reasons. The more I precept in the post-COVID era, where many of the educational programs are relying more heavily on hybrid learning, the more I recognize the importance of clinical placements. Students need quality, in-person, hands-on training to develop and cement their skills. I also want to retire one day knowing there are talented NPs behind me. It feels good to play a role in making that possible.

How do you balance the clinical demand with teaching?  

My goal is for students to see the patient first, get a history and complete a brief exam. They present their findings to me, and if appropriate, share their assessment and management suggestions. We then go back in the room together to review or repeat necessary components and wrap up the orders. However, my students understand that if we start running behind, she or he may need to shadow me through a few visits until we can get back up to speed. I still feel like they’re learning just by watching. 

What is your approach to precepting?  

As a student, I had some great preceptors and others whose approach didn’t suit me. I’ve tried to incorporate some of the most helpful approaches to create an educational experience that teaches both clinical skills and decision making, as well as other essentials of day-to-day practice, including inbox management, following up on referrals, lab review and billing. These are all important parts of the job. I like to work with students for two semesters to see them grow. I also find it works better with my own clinical flow; as their confidence builds, we start to move more quickly. They can even help me complete my documentation in a timely manner, which is always an added bonus!


Quirk is a primary care nurse practitioner at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Bulfinch Medical Group. She has been working with students as a preceptor throughout her eight-year tenure at the practice.

What do you like about the role? I want to give back to my profession and specifically the school that I went to (MGH Institute of Health Professions). Precepting keeps me on my toes — students ask engaging questions and sometimes we’re looking up the answers together. I enjoy teaching and working with students, and I’m always looking to learn more. I also understand there is a critical need for preceptors, and I want to do what I can to help provide students with valuable clinical experience and the opportunity to learn and advance in their future profession.

How do you manage to do it given the demands on your time? When I first started, I felt pressure for a student to see every single patient. I’ve gone from quantity to quality, and that has helped. I feel more comfortable saying, “I’m going to go see this patient by myself to get us back on track.” I feel empowered and I’m in flow when I have students, which I know is not the case for everyone. I like to work with students for multiple semesters, so I get to see them improve and see my efforts paying off.

Is it rewarding to see your students succeed? It’s certainly satisfying to know you’ve made an impact on future generations. You pass on the lessons and teach the tools that students take with them forever. They come back and they’re so grateful for the support you provided — that’s a big reason I keep doing it.