I love to precept nursing students and new grads, and I'd like to think I'm good at it. One of the reasons I enjoy it so much and throw so much of myself into it is because my preceptor, all those long years ago, was horrid to me. The first thing she ever said to me was "Don't think you're anything special because you're getting a BSN." At that point, my naive little soul was crushed. I didn't think I was anything special, I was proud I found the unit that day, and had no illusions about my skill level or superiority. She was a textbook example of how not to precept. It was a tiny L&D unit, and she and I would usually be the only nursing staff present (the "secondary" nurse would pass meds on the med/surg unit until her services were needed in L&D) and she would go in the other room and sleep, leaving me with a labor patient by myself. I was thrown into the deep end with lead weights on my feet. I learned to speak up for myself, I came in on her off weekends to work with the nurse on the other pattern so I could get another, less intimidating experience, and I learned how not to treat a student. When I was hired into the same unit, she was just as nasty, but at that point all the rest of the staff and the MDs liked me and helped me in every way possible, so I didn't care. So now, as a preceptor myself, I try to make the experience fun, safe, and I try to turn everything into a learning experience. I point out mistakes, but gently.
I really wonder, though, about some of the things I see. The newest, youngest new hire in our unit is chronically late. She's still on probation and very well may lose her job because she refuses to clock in on time. Other nurses have tried to point it out to her, but she just doesn't seem to think it's important. One of the newbies of a couple of years ago would come in and take a recovery patient if she ever had the opportunity (we self assign unless the unit is falling apart, then the charge will at least pair up appropriate patients). This meant that she would walk in to a patient who had, at most, another hour in the unit. She would do her fundal checks and VS and then ship the patient to postpartum and then the phone would come out and the texting would start. I wondered if she had a phone sex career as a side job. Finally one of the "old" nurses told her, "We know how to labor patients, you do not. You are not taking another recovery patient today." I've cringed as a student from my alma mater, when offered the opportunity to do a Foley, said, "Oh, I'm going to be a manager, I don't need to know how to do that." I've also overheard a student say to another, "Do you think I should tell that nurse she's doing it wrong?" No, no you should not. I fault the instructors to a large degree. The students are told that they are being taught the right way, the only way. They are told they will see things on the unit that will be all wrong. Instructors neglect to make sure they treat the staff with respect. It's so frustrating to need to sit down and chart only to find every chair occupied by a student, and it never occurs to them to get up and give the seat to the person that is working. These attitudes carry over to the working world, and it can cause hurt feelings and misunderstandings.
I love new nurses, and I value them (anyone that contributes to adequate staffing is a treasure in my book), but I also see what frustrates old nurses so much. And I remember being that new nurse and feeling like I was being eaten alive every day.