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How to be a good preceptee????

Has 8 years experience. Specializes in Medical/Surgical, L&D, Postpartum.

Hello everyone!!! This question is for anyone who has ever precepted a student nurse, or precepted a new grad. I was wondering if you guys could give me some tips about how to be a good preceptee. I will be starting my preceptorship in 2 weeks and I don't want to be a burden to my nurse. I want to know what you consider to be a good preceptee. Also, if you have any tips for me as far as maximizing my learning. I will be precepting in med-surg and am very excited. Any tips would be great!!! Thanks so much!!!

UPDATE: There is a great article on this subject can be found at Unsolicited Advice From A Preceptor.

Great question, ErickaAnn. I start my preceptorship next week, and I'd love to hear the suggestions.


Specializes in ICU/Critical Care.

If you have a question, ask your preceptor. If you don't know how to do something, don't do it, ask your preceptor. They are there to teach you. Never be afraid to ask why you are doing something?

nightmare, LPN

Specializes in Nursing Home ,Dementia Care,Neurology..

Be a good listener, reiterate points so that your preceptor knows you understand what you are being told.Ask questions so that she knows you are reinforcing what you are learning.If you are told something that you think, 'Oh i was taught differently ' be diplomatic!!!No preceptor likes to think you are trying to get one over on them!!but I always enjoy learning about new ways and thinkings and whether it's relevant to my practice.However some might not see it that way and feel threatened by it.You have to play that one by ear!!

Don't ever use the phrase "well at so-and-so hospital we did it this way".

Be open to learn how to things different ways, as nursing is not universal. Everyone will do things in different ways; the trick is to find the way that's best for you.

nyapa, RN

Specializes in Jack of all trades, and still learning.

All of the above.

Be willing to work.

Do a bit of reading if you can on the conditions of people you look after or come into contact with, and the related care.

Communication is really important in nursing. Try and use the opportunity to learn to speak to your patients in a friendly, personal, professional and compassionate manner, while being efficient with your time. VERY hard skill to learn.

Also learn the heirarchy of reporting information. Obviously you are a student, so you wouldn't go beyond your own scope. But maybe your preceptor may give you opportunities.

When reporting to other members of the health team, you need to know what pertinent info to give them, and what is unnecessary. Also not an easy skill. So find ways of asking your preceptor about these things.

Learn how to document properly. This is SO important.

Nursing is not just physical care. They tell us that in our training, and you should make every opportunity to practice it while you can...


Specializes in Medicine.

What exactly is a preceptor?

Blee O'Myacin, BSN, RN

Specializes in ED, ICU, Heme/Onc.

IcanHealYou said:
What exactly is a preceptor?

A preceptor is an experienced nurse who teaches the new grad or a new hire how to function in the job they were hired for. Eventually, all new grads are expected to function as competent professionals, and the coaching after school is the piece where the classroom and clinical time meets up with real life. In an ideal situation, the experienced nurse and new grad develop a mentoring relationship. I still keep in touch with my new grad preceptor. She taught me so many things, but the most valuable was to know what I was talking about before I spoke, to accept that no one knows everything and it's OK to look something up, and how to remain calm during a crisis. We had a patient go from talking to coding in under 30 seconds. He just turned blue and went into v-fib. It was my third week out of school, I hadn't even sat for the NCLEX - and I just froze. I had no idea what to do. We were still at the point where she was at my side for everything, so she was able to take over. After the incident was over, we talked about what happened to the patient and what to do when it was my turn to "be the nurse"! I just finished precepting a new grad and it was a very proud moment when she caught a patient going bad and acted before I needed to step in. I remain honored to have been a part of that particular moment.

Student preceptorships vary from hospital to hospital. Some places don't allow a student to touch a patient, and some train the student to function as an extra pair of hands - performing bedside care, vital signs, EKGs, and sometimes phlebotomy (drawing blood). The benefit of a student preceptorship is that student nurses get a realistic taste of what they can expect out of school, from themselves, coworkers and patients without having to share an instructor among 9 other students with all the limitations that entails.

To the OP, I don't know if you mean a student preceptorship or a new grad job. So my advice is this. Don't get involved with the politics on the floor until you are absolutely sure of the climate. Be kind to those around you and you will get it back in return. Take responsibility for yourself and always have a rationale for whatever you do.

Good luck!


The preceptors are so different... what is a good preceptee to one might not necessarily be a good preceptee to another. just go with your guts, get to know your preceptor, pick up verabal and non verbal cues. I love my med surg preceptor, she is awesome. I want to get her a small present when I am done with my leadership rotation. Any ideas? Thanks


Specializes in Med/Surg.

Here are some more traits of a good preceptee:

*Have confidence in yourself & show it

*Be prepared, on time, & reliable

*Always show a willingness to learn

*Take initiative/be assertive

*Ask questions if unsure of something and don't do anything if unsure & w/o asking first *Don't try to be "super-nurse" by taking on more than you can realistically handle

*Be willing to ask for help

*Don't act like a "know-it-all"

*Keep an open-mind to suggestions(incl how to do something differently than

what you're used to)

*Show your teamwork attitude

*Be respectful of preceptors, other co-workers, patients/families, etc


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