My Preceptor is Mocking Me

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My Preceptor is Mocking Me

Hi Nurse Beth,

I hope you're doing very well! I've been working as a new grad nurse for over 2 months now. I feel like quitting due to toxic environment that I am in. I have had different preceptors at the hospital that I currently work at.

There is this specific preceptor that always gossips about me at the nurses station for being so slow and lacking time management. She has been teaching me how "time management" should be done, but I believe she's teaching me how to cut corners. For example, we were giving blood transfusion to the patient. In nursing school, I learned how important it is to stay with the patient for the first 15 minutes. Instead, my preceptor told me to leave the room, to complete my physical assessment on another patient and then to come back after 15 minutes to the patient's room with blood transfusing. I did not feel comfortable.

I did not follow what she told me to do. My preceptor found out and said that "nobody really dies from blood transfusion after carefully checking all important information" in her 15 years of experience as a nurse. 

Yesterday, I overheard her talking about me using profanities to other nurses. She said that I was "***ing slow" and "do extra steps that do not make any sense." One of the nurses also said that the hospital should not be hiring any new grads because we "waste the company's time and money" after getting that 1 year experience on med/surg. I confronted my preceptor saying that I overheard everything she said and I do not feel comfortable. She immediately changed her behavior and tone in a professional way. She told me that it "was not a big deal". 

I do not know if this is really the type of experience that new grads go through wherever we work. I would like to get your opinion on it. Thank you!

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Career Columnist / Author

Nurse Beth, MSN

157 Articles; 3,217 Posts

Specializes in Tele, ICU, Staff Development.

Dear, Feel like Quitting,

I'm sorry to hear about the toxic environment you're experiencing with your preceptor.

It's disheartening to encounter such negativity, especially as a new grad nurse still learning and developing their skills. Not all nursing experiences are like this, and it's important to remember that your current situation does not define your entire nursing career.

It is unacceptable for your preceptor or any other nurse to speak about you disrespectfully or unprofessionally. Addressing the issue and seeking support to improve the situation is essential.

It makes me uncomfortable when people use "time management" excessively as a form of criticism. Learning new skills, such as blood transfusion, requires a task-oriented approach that demands complete concentration. It's unfair to criticize new graduates for taking the necessary time to learn.

Preceptors should support new grads where they are at and encourage critical thinking.

Here are a few suggestions:

Speak with your preceptor again. Your preceptor should have your back. Reiterate how her comments and behavior have made you uncomfortable and undermined your confidence. Request a more supportive and respectful approach during your training.

It's possible that she may not be aware of the impact her words have had on you. This approach will likely surprise her and motivate her to alter her behavior.

Discuss the situation with your nurse manager or educator. Reach out to your facility's nurse manager or nurse educator to explain your challenges. They may be able to intervene, provide guidance, or assign you a different preceptor who will support your learning and growth.

It is not unusual at all to switch preceptors. As an educator, I know it happens regularly. Preceptors who are impatient and critical should be held accountable, be given training, or stop precepting.

Seek support from colleagues. You are not alone. Connect with others from your cohort who can provide guidance, advice, and emotional support. They may have experienced similar situations and can offer insights on navigating this challenging period. 

Look for a mentor. Find an experienced nurse within your organization or in the nursing community who can serve as a mentor. A mentor can provide valuable guidance, share their experiences, and help you navigate challenges in your nursing career.

Document incidents. Keep a record of any incidents or instances of unprofessional behavior. This can be helpful if you need to escalate the situation or if it becomes necessary to discuss the matter further with human resources or higher-level management.

Explore other opportunities if needed. Differentiate if this is a toxic preceptor or also a toxic environment. 

If the toxic environment persists and affects your well-being and professional growth, consider exploring opportunities in other healthcare settings. Read "How to Recognize a Toxic Environment". There are many hospitals and facilities that provide supportive learning environments for new grad nurses.

Reality Shock. It's common to experience reality shock when transitioning from school to the workforce. Reality shock includes balancing the idealism of school with the practicalities of the real world without compromising integrity.

When your preceptor instructs you to do something that goes against what you've been taught, ask to see the policy and procedure so you can follow evidence-based practice.

Remember, you are not alone in this experience. Many new grad nurses face challenges and encounter difficult situations during their early careers. It's OK to speak up!

It's important to advocate for yourself, seek support, and surround yourself with positive influences that encourage your growth and development as a nurse.

Take care of yourself and focus on your learning and professional goals. With time and experience, you will find a supportive and fulfilling nursing environment.

Read "Tips for New Grads"


Nurse Beth


6,657 Posts

Nurse Beth said:

I confronted my preceptor saying that I overheard everything she said and I do not feel comfortable. She immediately changed her behavior and tone in a professional way. She told me that it "was not a big deal". 

Okay, this made me smile. Good for you. I often go about things in a way that just so happens to avoid direct confrontation that could become adversarial, but there are times that just call for it and this person needed to hear this.

What despicable behavior on her part. This is one of those situations where if she would have been offended by being directly confronted with her actions, she could have completely avoided it by being better.

You are right to not cut corners that should not be cut. We are having a lengthy discussion elsewhere on this forum about a nurse who did just that and the patient died. This job is no joke, and we should NEVER be cutting corners to look like a hotshot get-er-done nurse in front of our peers NOR so that we can try to single-handedly compensate for a corporate decision to maintain bare-bones staffing. As much as you possibly can, do the work as it is supposed to be done.

Don't worry about whether this is a typical new grad experience; that is irrelevant. Whether it is common or uncommon, either way it isn't okay.

She might really shape up and try harder now that she knows you aren't easily messed with. If she doesn't, consider telling manager that you're not going to continue orientation with someone who behaves this way.

BEST of luck!!

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