Here's just some of my thoughts, as a preceptee:
I just want to say to all of you that precept .......... you are awesome and thank you!!
I obviously haven't precepted, as I'm brand new. But I just got off orientation about 4 months ago. I had the most wonderful preceptor, I couldn't have asked for anyone better.
She was extremely patient with me. She led me and helped when I needed it, but she let me do things my way for the most part, which was great. I had preceptors in the past that were so anal about doing things their way (which is fine .... I know a lot of people are like this) and that really hinders the whole learning experience.
I totally agree with giving praise. There were some nights when I was on orientation that were just chaotic and I felt like I did a so-so job ...... I felt like I didn't do the greatest. I felt a lot like what Jokerhill described in #4. My preceptor would push me and really challenge me, I thought she was thinking I was an idiot that couldn't handle it all! But at the end of the shift, she would tell me I did great. As insignificant as that sounds, it means THE WORLD! It gave me the confidence and the encouragment to come back the next night, even if I was in tears and nervous to death about it ...... it helped to keep me going.
Preceptors also have to step back and just let them do things on their own. I know that has to be hard, because you want to make sure it gets done and gets done right. There were times when my preceptor would say "Ok, you need to do XY and Z, I'll be back in a minute but if you need any help so and so is here so just ask". Then she'd step out for a minute and it kinda forced me to do things. I never did anything I was uncomfortable with, but sometimes when she was in there watching me, I kinda second-guessed myself and would ask for more help than I really needed. So when she stepped out it kinda forced me to do it. She KNEW I could do it, and she felt safe with allowing me to do it, otherwise she wouldn't let me. It's almost like she had more confidence in me than I had in myself. And seeing that confidence in her, gave me the confidence in myself. If that makes any sense whatsoever, lol.
Also, she let me make my own mistakes. That has to be tough too, but it helped me SO MUCH! I remember one time I totally forgot to do the lab draws in the morning until the very last minute. She knew about it the whole time and mentioned it to me at the end of the shift. I was freaking out and wondering why she didn't say anything!! But I made the mistake. And you know what? I NEVER forget lab draws anymore! It helps to learn from your own mistakes. So it's ok for them to let their preceptee make mistakes (within reason ...... as long as the patient isn't harmed).
I can't imagine how incredibly hard it is to precept someone. I know you have to have patience and understanding ..... and that can be hard especially when you're under stress while working. I think some people are just not cut out for it, and that's ok. But don't precept someone if you don't want to, because no one wins in that situation.
I had a 12-week orientation into the NICU (Level III + ECMO). I got experience with a ton of different things, but it definitely wasn't enough time to learn everything obviously. I still ask questions all the time and everyone is extremely supportive of me. I do still have a pretty strong bond with my preceptor ..... I know I can go to her for anything at all, as I can also go to anyone else on my unit.
Our educators told us at the very beginning that if we ever felt like we needed a different preceptor than just go to them and tell them, then they would hook us up with someone else. They understood that some people just don't "mesh".
You should see how often I ask questions, even after being off orientation and on my own for a few months now. No one has EVER laughed at me. Please don't be afraid to ask questions. I can almost guarantee that it's a question they've heard before ..... and even if it's not, they won't care, they'll want to help you out. They won't get tired of being asked questions. Even the nurses that have been there for 20+ years still ask questions! And I don't see them getting tired of it after 20 years, so they definitely won't get tired of you (someone new) asking a ton of questions!
And I don't say this to scare you, but it's just reality. You won't learn everything in 16 weeks, and when you're done with orientation you won't feel competent. You will learn A LOT during your orientation. One of my educators told me that when you're done with orientation all you need to know how to do is a "good assessment". You have to know how to asses and report when something is wrong. And that's basically it. There are a ton of skills that I still don't know how to do. But if it ever comes to the point where they write an order for a skill that I'm not familiar or comfortable doing ...... then I'll just ask for help.