Is asking to switch my preceptor in this scenario rude/wrong?

by brandnewicu brandnewicu (New) New Nurse

Specializes in ICU.

Hello everyone, 

I have been on this website to look through posts and now I am a new graduate nurse and it’s finally time to make a post of my own. 

This is my first nursing job, and I am part of a nurse residency program. I have finished the didactic portion and I am now on the second week of my preceptorship on a MICU with a nurse on the floor. 

The first week I was paired with my preceptor. We don’t really get along much personality wise, and it felt like by the second day I was supposed to know all the skills but at the same time I felt micromanaged and like not really welcome to ask questions or just someone mildly annoyed. It made me feel nervous and stupid  I guess.
I think the bottom line is they are a serious personality and are a bit burnt out. I am basically sweet and sensitive and like to be friendly so it kind of makes the shift drag. 

By the second week I was switched because my preceptor took off. This person I got along with. They knew how many days I had looked over a patient and then gave me a very very simple patient and showed me how to chart everything and told me to ask if I have any questions. They brought me in for procedures and made me feel like I can do this and encouraged me. I really felt like I learnt a lot. The second day I got a more difficult patient and did a lot of procedures. 

I am just feeling like I am getting a better learning experience with the other preceptor. Maybe it is because her personality makes me less nervous and uncomfortable, and because she gives me more autonomy. I feel like my other preceptor we go hours without talking and it is just painfully awkward. But mainly, this isn’t just a comfort thing. It’s a learning thing too. Both have their quirks, but there is one clearly a better fit for me. 

so, the first preceptor is my “assigned” one and she is coming back from break next week. I wanted to ask my director if I can have more time with preceptor #2 but I don’t want to be rude, or make anything be catty between nurses. I just want a better learning experience for myself. I don’t want them to think “this girl is problematic” and I don’t want to hurt the other preceptors feelings ( although, I feel like they would think it’s a relief off their shoulders. They even told me they said it wasn’t a good idea to pair with me bc “they are leaving again and don’t want me to be switched around too much”)

by the way, I already asked preceptor #2 if it was okay with her if I stayed and she said ofcourse. What do you guys think? Should I speak up or just keep my mouth shut?  

Edited by brandnewicu


Probably okay if you can 1) not talk too much 2) keep every word positive.

Something along the lines, "Although this is challenging I'm really enjoying it so far. I met [so-and-so] and had a couple of great days with her. Is it possible I could continue to orient with her on her schedule?"

If they have a reason why they need you to stay with preceptor #1, you will need to buckle down and log some more time so that you have enough experience with her to present a more legitimate(-sounding) need for a change. You don't want it to appear as if you haven't given the situation a chance.

Also know that there are difficult people you are going to have to work alongside. I agree with you that it isn't ideal and it definitely isn't ideal for orientation (in fact I would say not appropriate)--but just keep in mind that there isn't always a way out and instead you will need to learn the way through.

Best of luck!

Been there,done that, ASN, RN

Has 33 years experience.

There is absolutely no problem requesting a different preceptor.  You are not making trouble, you are bringing your observation into YOUR orientation. 

Just ask. Chances are the director couldn't care less who precepts you.


CharleeFoxtrot, BSN, RN

Has 10 years experience.

4 hours ago, JKL33 said:

Also know that there are difficult people you are going to have to work alongside. I agree with you that it isn't ideal and it definitely isn't ideal for orientation (in fact I would say not appropriate)--but just keep in mind that there isn't always a way out and instead you will need to learn the way through.

Best of luck!

This is really good advice, and honestly something you will need to learn to be a success as a nurse no matter where you are working.  Throughout your career you will have to work with people you don't "click" with, and learning to adapt without loosing your mind is a valuable skill.  If they will not let you switch, just absorb what you can and count the days until you aren't under this person's supervision.  Best of luck to you 🙂

Edited by CharleeFoxtrot
fixed an error


Specializes in retired LTC.

Word of caution before you proceed --- be ABSOLUTELY 110% sure your #2 preceptor feels the same about you, and has not just been paying you lip service while playing nicey-nicey with you.

Something I've read from many recent postings here is that many newbies think they're proceeding along well without any negatives. And then all of a sudden, the nurse gets blind-sided! So to tag on to my warning - are you receiving scheduled progress evals that confirms your progress. You should be receiving that information as you proceed thru orient.

I agree with other PPs, that it couldn't hurt to to ask about continuing with #2 preceptor. Just be super positive re your progress and learning and comfort, etc. DO NOT in any way speak negatively of the other preceptor - you might just have to continue along with her.

That could be awkward, but is temporary. You'll deal with difficult people all thru your career. This time will just help you to build those negotiating 'people' skills.

Good luck.

Nunya, BSN

Specializes in NICU/Mother-Baby/Peds/Mgmt. Has 39 years experience.

Yes, you'll have to with with many people you don't necessarily click with, however I think while on orientation, ESPECIALLY your first job, it would be better to have as a preceptor someone you do click with.  Learning your first nursing job is hard enough.  Ask.

I think you could say that your really finding her teaching style aligns well with how you learn and you would be willing to adjust your schedule to get more opportunities to train with them


clamchopz, ASN

Specializes in New Grad- Emergency Room.

If you feel that you can flourish with preceptor #2, then it wouldn't hurt to ask.  But be sure to ask in a positive way. Say something like, "I have learned a lot from (Preceptor #1), but I heard that she might be taking off again, so I would like to have a more consistent Preceptor (name the second one), as long as it's OK with her."  Make sure you thank the first preceptor for their time as well.  If that doesn't work, then just go with the flow and make the best out of the situation.  Always thank the preceptor for their time- whether it was good or bad!


Specializes in CNA.

There is nothing wrong requesting a different preceptor. Some people just click with certain people. Some let you do everything by yourself, while others make sure you are learning, retaining, and are gaining skills needed to excel on the unit. It is your orientation, if you feel that you are learning better with someone else, I think you should work with that person. 

Also, if you have questions, you should feel like you can ask those questions. That is what a preceptor is for. And no one is supposed to be expected to master orientation in one day!

I do agree other posters that there will always be people that you don't click with, or do get along with, and while it is important to be able to set those feelings aside, and learn to work together, you need someone who is going to actually show you the ropes. Someone who is receptive. Someone who wants to teach you. Otherwise, when you're on your own, it's going to be a lot harder.


Specializes in PICU. Has 13 years experience.

Just as a side thought. If preceptor #1 was off during the week you were with preceptor #2, it is possible that Preceptor #1 was burned out and was needing the days off to recoup, and was just trying to survive until her day off during that  first week you were there .

See what happens the next time you are together and be very careful about how you word things. You don't ever want to say that preceptor #1 was not welcoming, unapproachable, etc because of three shifts you had with her.

Hopefully, she just needed a much deserved vacation and time off. 

alfa-sierra, BSN, RN

Specializes in Psych. Has 18 years experience.

You must ask for preceptor #2 for several reasons:1) you have all the right to be assertive. This is a crucial stage that will shape your career for the future. Maximize your learning potential with your collegial, respectful, professional second preceptor. 2) your hospital has made an investment on you, it's on their best interest to have a happier, more learned nurse at the end of your preceptorship. An intelligent manager will appreciate your assertiveness. This is not the time for you to learn how to "get along" as other nurses here have suggested, in detriment of a better learning experience. Go for it, from the start you have the right and duty to become the best nurse you can possibly be. Carpe diem!


When I was in nursing school, one of the nurses at my clinical site told us that when we are paired with a preceptor, it is really important to click.  It's not necessary to be best friends with a preceptor, and it's not about being able to "get along" with someone, but it's so important to have someone with a teaching style that matches your learning style.  She said the orientation was a crucial stage of our development, as we go from SN to independent RN, and the most important thing we can do is to advocate for ourselves (and our future patients) in regards to a good preceptor relationship. She flat-out told us to ask for a change if we didn't feel what we had was working.

I agree with PP that you want to ask for the switch in positive terms that emphasize how the second RN is a better fit rather than trashing the first RN.  If the manager is any good, he or she will want you to be paired with the preceptor who helps you be the best RN you can be.  The preceptor/orientee relationship should be one of a coach helping to make a newbie a confident, independent nurse.  It shouldn't be a test to see if you can "get along" with someone difficult or "figure it out" with someone whose style doesn't match your needs.  It's okay to be "selfish" and ask for what you need at this foundational time of your career.