Precepting on the ICU and gender communication problems

Nurses Men


I got a job out of nursing school on the ICU that I had precepted in during nursing school. I am the only male on the unit in the daytime. Good unit, a good mix of people that I get along with well. My preceptor for school was a female and was direct when talking. The preceptor that I received when I started work was quite a bit different. She is the charge, and has 18 years of experience in critical care and always has the 2 most ill or difficult patients. This is fine for her with plenty of experience, but I am still learning. Yesterday she and I had a meeting with the critical care manager to end my precptorship with her and select a new preceptor. Many of the difficulties that I have faced are typical for new nurses, namely prioritizing and working efficiently, something that comes with experience. She offered little to no guidance other than a passing comment to me to "check my K levels" which was her way of saying that it needed done now. She was offended that I dismissed her comments by responding with a "yes" instead of hopping right to it. She doesn't like confrontation, she refuses to call me out on things that i may do incorrectly until the end of the shift or the next day. Sometimes in the form of a post-it note. Lastly, she directly questioned my integrity in front of the manager.

I have a bachelors and masters in psychology, and was a therapist for 5 years. I know that it is not related to nursing, but i do have a good sense of my knowledge base and how to ask questions. She was offended that I would not ask her how to do things when I had no knowledge deficit on the issue. We sat down with some expired swan caths and she explained them to me. I listened attentively and did additional research when i went home. But because I wouldn't communicate in a more "female" fashion out of respect for her feelings when she was trying to teach me something, have to get a new preceptor.

Specializes in ER, ICU.

Sounds like she sucks as a preceptor (unless you're leaving all all the wonderful things she has done for you). As a preceptor for 6 years, it is their responsibility to meet your learning needs, facilitate communication, anticipate learning barriers, and not make you feel like an idiot. You should be happy you're getting a new one, maybe she will be better. Your current preceptor may have no experience with male nurses and expect you to fit what she has come to expect in a trainee. I recommend keeping a log or diary (I know it's a long day already) but I got fired once because my Nurse Rachett preceptor took a dislike to me and ran me out. If I had kept a detailed account I might have made it. (For example, I asked her to explain how a transducer worked but she had no idea. She just kept showing me how to zero it over and over. She obviously only knew how to use it, not how it worked. Since I do all my own carpentry, electrical work, and plumbing I like to know how things work. It's a guy thing. Now, I could nurse circles around her and she is still fat and bitter, oh my!) I also question her commitment to being a preceptor. She might be a little burned out after 18 years, but I don't want to judge. Continue to ask questions. If you get fired for that you don't want to work there anyway. You might want to have a private conversation with your boss and bring up some gender issues. You could state you are trying hard to study and learn but you sometimes have a different approach or understand things a little differently. The use of the term "gender issues" should strike a cord in her brain. Things with a label are easier to identify and work with. Best of luck, hope this helps!

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