On top of all of the things mentioned above here is what I think made the difference between successful preceptor/student relationship and one that was not so successful/rewarding
1) When you are about to perform a skill ask your student a) have they done it before b) if they would like to try
-If they seem uncomfortable let them know that its perfectly fine and that you will show them how to do it this time and next time they can try. The absolute worst thing is when a preceptor makes you feel dumb and/or lazy for being hesitant about trying something for the first time. As you are doing whatever it is, explain the steps and give them some tips that have worked for you or for others. After leaving the room, discuss it, address their questions/concerns, and make them feel like next time they can do it!
- If they agree to try- try and seem confident in their ability. Some preceptors seemed so nervous about letting me try something, that it just made me nervous and question whether I should be doing this. Before going into the patients room (especially with a newer student) ask if they have any questions/ concerns and get them to go through the steps verbally with you first. Doing this really helps boosts the confidence of both parties- it allows you to correct any mistakes before going into the patients room and makes the student less worried about making one.
I hated when I had preceptors who would surf the web, text message or gossip with/complain to their coworkers when we had some down time. Clinical experience is such a VALUABLE part of our education, and as a preceptor you should work with your student to maximize their learning opportunities. Even if this is just telling them about your nursing experiences, difficult situations you have faced, interesting patient scenarios etc.
3) Introduce the student to your coworkers
One of my preceptors did this and always added --and if you are doing anything interesting today or have anything you think she should try let us know! This expanded my opportunities to see new things and practice skills, especially on those days where the patients you are assigned to don't really have much going on. Plus it gave me the opportunity to interact with more people in the field which is always a plus!
3) Some of my worst clinical experiences were not due to the fact that the preceptor was mean or rude, but because they just never let me try anything! You can be the nicest person on earth, but if you just go about your shift without giving them the opportunity to do anything it makes that time extremely unproductive for the student. Yes, I know as students we can be much less efficient and have potential to make mistakes, but if we never try we will never learn! Obviously you can't be reckless, but don't be overbearing either!
I could go on and on but here's just a few tips :-)