Preceptors-What's the real deal?

  1. I'm still in nursing school, but I have a nagging question about preceptors. How does one become a preceptor? Do you voluntarily sign up for it? Do you get extra money in your paycheck? Do you have to have a BSN? Do you need a certain amount of years experience? Do you go through a training? Are you evaluated on your preceptor skills? If so, is it ongoing, or at the end of the year?

    The reason I ask all these questions is because I'm reading all these horror stories and I'm wondering are these preceptors being sufficiently trained not only on 'precepting', but time management, attitude, safety, expectations, etc?
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  2. 21 Comments

  3. by   babynurselsa
    It varies from place to place. Some places ask for volunteers, some places givea diff, some make it a part of clinical ladder, etc.
    Some places have a new person walk in one day and peg the next person who walks by and informs them that they are preceptor.
  4. by   meownsmile
    No you dont have to have a BSN,, no you dont have to sign up for it (most places anyway), no you dont get paid for it (in most places anyway), no you dont have to have any special orientation for it, YES you do need to be competant in your position and have enough selfconfidence to help someone else learn how to organize and execute their job. In a way you are evaluated, usually by the orientee and nurse manager that can tell by the way the orientee is resonding whether you are any good at it or not.

    In most places precepting a new employee is part of the job description. There are some who dont like to and they usually are not asked to because they have been proven to be difficult to work with anyway. Im sure in some large facilities they may have some compensation plan and maybe even a separate program for preceptors, but most likely only in the larger innercity hospitals. It would probly depend on their turnover rate as to whether they would put the expense into having a separate program for something like that.
  5. by   zahryia
    Quote from babynurselsa
    It varies from place to place. Some places ask for volunteers, some places givea diff, some make it a part of clinical ladder, etc.
    Some places have a new person walk in one day and peg the next person who walks by and informs them that they are preceptor.
    That's a real shame.
  6. by   MarySunshine
    This may not be exactly what you are asking, but I am a brand new nursing student preceptor in a clinical preceptorship program. I have never oriented a new nurse before (except for an occasional shift when no one elses was available). So, now I will have 1 nursing student assigned to me per 8 week clinical rotation. What was this formal processs....?

    My manager asked me to and I like teaching and thought it would be a good growing experience, so I said yes. I have a BSN and that was one of the requirements (don't know why...). I have only 1 year experience. I had no training except for a 3 hour meeting where we discusssed the program and what classes the students had already had. I am not evaluated formally, to my knowledge. I wouldn't mind if I was, it would be helpful to me.

    So, if you're worried that preceptors aren't thoroughly trained in precepting and don't have big incentives to precept nursing students then you may be right. But many nurses, myself included, are trying our best anyway.
  7. by   zahryia
    Quote from MarySunshine
    This may not be exactly what you are asking, but I am a brand new nursing student preceptor in a clinical preceptorship program. I have never oriented a new nurse before (except for an occasional shift when no one elses was available). So, now I will have 1 nursing student assigned to me per 8 week clinical rotation. What was this formal processs....?

    My manager asked me to and I like teaching and thought it would be a good growing experience, so I said yes. I have a BSN and that was one of the requirements (don't know why...). I have only 1 year experience. I had no training except for a 3 hour meeting where we discusssed the program and what classes the students had already had. I am not evaluated formally, to my knowledge. I wouldn't mind if I was, it would be helpful to me.

    So, if you're worried that preceptors aren't thoroughly trained in precepting and don't have big incentives to precept nursing students then you may be right. But many nurses, myself included, are trying our best anyway.
    MarySunshine,

    I think this may be a good opportunity to perhaps set up a protocol (i.e. training, evaluation, etc) of some sort over time. I think it would be a great initiative for your floor and potentially the whole hospital. Maybe you can set it up as a PDSA cylce and get feedback from both the experienced preceptors and graduate/new nurses.

    I'm not familiar with the politics, but maybe you can just do it and then present some of the early findings to your DON or nurse manager before you even ask to start it.
  8. by   llg
    Quote from MarySunshine
    So, if you're worried that preceptors aren't thoroughly trained in precepting and don't have big incentives to precept nursing students then you may be right. But many nurses, myself included, are trying our best anyway.
    As I am pretty sure you know, becoming a good preceptor takes time and practice -- just like becoming a competent patient care provider. It souds to me as if you will do just fine.

    As for the orientees ... they need to remember that they are not the only ones who are still learning. Just as the patients must accept the fact that students and orientees participate in their care, the orientee must accept the fact that some of her preceptors and instructors are also still learning their roles.

    llg
  9. by   luckylucyrn
    Where I work preceptors get a bonus of like 500 dollars after precepting a new grad, I think 250 for a nurse that already has experience. Most of our preceptors here have had several years nursing experience and are considered the "best" in the unit. They are asked to precept and we have a preceptor "course". Of course they dont always get into the course before they are precepting, and unfortunatley we have so few preceptors that we end up with 2-3 orientees for one preceptor at a time.
  10. by   meownsmile
    2-3 orientees per preceptor at 1 time??? That kind of sounds like a accident waiting to happen. New nurses need a preceptors undivided attention for the most part the first few weeks of orientation. Anything less than the preceptors undivided attention warrants a pretty dangerous experience for the orientee, preceptor and the patient.
  11. by   catlady
    Quote from meownsmile
    2-3 orientees per preceptor at 1 time??? That kind of sounds like a accident waiting to happen. New nurses need a preceptors undivided attention for the most part the first few weeks of orientation. Anything less than the preceptors undivided attention warrants a pretty dangerous experience for the orientee, preceptor and the patient.
    They must figure that since a nursing instructor can have ten students at a time, two orientees must be a piece of cake. Not that I agree.
  12. by   Antikigirl
    It differs in different facilities. My facility will allow any nurse that volunteers to do it dependant on how long they have worked there (like me, I have only been there for 1 month as their employee...6 months as agency...so I am not quite up to par with them yet to teach).

    Once I establish myself, they may have me take on a student nurse for part of a shift (like a first year...which I already have as agency really)...so not a full preceptor position.

    I am eager to be a preceptor once I get the feel for all the bells and whistles of the facility (still have some things to re-learn for their facility policies). I love to teach and I like using humor and fun stories...so the few students I have had have had a blast with me, and learned not only their books info...but common sense nursing!!!!! It may have been 7 years ago, but I remember the feel of student/new nurse very vividly..and heck, agency can make you feel that way all over again too...so I remember, and treat accordingly big time .

    And YES, you get a few extra dollars for doing preceptorship and hour, so if you get a lighter load and take on a student...very worth it (if uncle sam doesn't take that extra out of the paycheck..LOL!).
  13. by   BittyBabyGrower
    We don't have to have a BSN, we have to apply for the positions and be interviewed by education and training. We have to have at least 3 years experience and soon having our RNC (at least in our unit) will be mandated. We get $1 an hour more (yippee). We only orient on 9 hour days...8 hours of work and the last hour we use to go over things, set a plan for the next day. We found that orienting for 12 hours is rough on everyone all around, I don't want to talk after 8 hours and you don't want to hear me anymore LOL. We always have 2 preceptors per person, usually an off shift person teamed with a day shift person so that if the main orientation is on the off shift, they they go to days for rounds, procedures, more orders and meds. If they are orienting on day shift as their main, then they go the off shift they will be working for half the time. We go to classes about how adults learn and to keep up with the latest paperwork. Our orientor will evaluate us midway thru orientation and at the end.
  14. by   gitterbug
    Being a preceptor is hard work. You have to take into account the new nurse's lack of experience, the type of unit, amount of staff, expectations of unit and facility. I was assigned to preceptor, never got an extra cent for it, was never given an extra cent for it on evals, did it for 3 years, decided to NEVER do it again, but sadly, I usually am required to show the new person some type of treatment or procedure no one else is comfortable with, especially dressings, wound care, blood and IV starts, and writing verbal orders. I think preceptors are worked too hard, expected to know too much and are very much under-appreciated.

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