Eating young from a new (maybe) perspective

Nurses General Nursing


After reading the confessions of a nurse eater and the responses it got (I believe originally posted by nurse4kids), I felt I had to post this.

I've recently transferred to OB after nearly 4 years of med-surg. In those years of med-surg, I oriented quite a few new nurses. Was I always as patient as a saint? Heck no!! I am HUMAN. I also fight with my husband on occasion but that doesn't make me a husband eater, does it?

Now I'm the newbie in OB. Wouldn't you know that I've forgotten just about every blessed book-learned piece of knowledge from only 4 years ago?! I'm starting new. I've had two preceptors in the last 5 weeks. Two different methods of doing things. One was very patient and very quiet, never yelled at me and gave me great training. The other is very, for want of a better word, hyper. She's constantly on me over every little thing. She grills me on things I know I'm right about until I start to doubt myself. I come home exhausted every day I work. I've gone from big fish in little pond to minnow and it isn't a fun feeling.

Guess what? I'm learning so much more from hyper-rake-me-over-the-coals nurse than I learned from the nice one. The first nurse was sweet and supportive but she didn't make me stretch my abilities. She didn't make me want to PROVE myself every day. She let me slide if I didn't know something. The second nurse preceptor (who I will finish my orientation under) is tough and doesn't lavish me with praise, but when she gives me a smile and an understated "good job," I KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that I earned that praise.

A preceptor/orientee relationship goes two ways. If I wanted to bow up ( a Southern term, huh?) to my preceptor, she could make my life a living hell. Its up to me to decide how I'll deal with her. I recognize the fact that she has superior knowledge in OB to me. She has so much to teach me in so short a time. Rather than spend half my time muttering under my breath about her attitude toward me, I need to be taking advantage of every limited second she has to guide and teach me. She's been doing this for 14 years. She has the right to come down hard on me when I do something stupid: somebody needs to maintain quality in care and goodness knows administration doesn't give a crap unless a lawyer is involved. She is an excellent but tough preceptor who probably would make some nurses cry.

What's my point? I know that there are hateful people out there. Some of those hateful people are nurse preceptors. I've now been on both sides: once as a new grad and now as an experienced nurse learning a new area. Here's the benefit of my experience. You are 50% of the preceptor/orientee team. How you choose to act will affect 100% of your orientation experience. You may not be able to change how your preceptor treats you, but you can change how you perceive and receive your preceptor's guidance.

I say this not to excuse a nasty preceptor, just to give an alternate perspective on how to deal with a difficult one. Make your experience the best it can be regardless of the circumstances: its definitely to your advantage.

What a great post, Tracy. It says a great deal about you, both as a person and as a professional, that you chose to view this experience as a challenge and can still appreciate your preceptor's knowledge and what she can teach you, while not always appreciating her demeanor or attitude.

I think you make a good point that mentor-student relationships are a 2-way street. While not everyone has the kind of personality or spirit (and shouldn't necessarily have to) that can accept a situation such as the one that you describe--one which may be intellectually fulfilling but emotionally difficult--I admire your

determination to walk away from this experience with a great education and an undamaged psyche.

Best wishes on completing your orientation and taking on fresh challenges in your new unit.

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