Preceptor experience is not going well


A little background on myself, I am a new nurse that had a year experience in a post acute care after graduation. I just got a new job in a hospital finally, acute care just what I needed! I came here so I could continue learning skills on a med surg floor. However it is not going so hot.

I was at the top of my class both in the classroom and on the floor in clinical. I am smart and ready to learn and use my knowledge, I had felt as though I was starting to forget skills and critical thinking so I made the change to get a job in acute care. I had been trying for a while but every where wanted a year experience!

Anyways, my preceptor is a smart nurse but from day one she has been emphasizing all the negatives every day. I make big strides every day but I feel like she has it out for me ! If I make a mistake or I am having trouble seeing the big picture she puts all the blame on me and saying it's going to take her a lot of work to get me up to par. She says these things constantly that kill my confidence and now I don't even want to work there. She wanted to sign me up for extra days after I just worked my three 12 hour shifts in a row because she felt like I needed more time. She always talks about how quickly she caught on and stuff and that her orientation was half the time mine is. I've been on the floor for maybe 8 weeks now and she is taking away any confidence I might have had. She constantly goes around me to do things like call doctors and and do discharge and give meds without me knowing because I'm not up to her speed. She constantly is asking did you do this or this or this, and when I haven't gotten the change to do it all she freaks out because I can't clone myself to meet all her expectations.

I just beg all preceptors to not push the new nurses to do everything at your speed and don't kill their confidence every day by emphasizing all the negatives! I just wish I could have a preceptor that didn't make me feel like a failure every day.

Am I the only one who thinks they should just quit? I feel like 4 years of school has been wasted and now I get to go to work every day just to get told you're a failure. Talk about depression.........


1,526 Posts

Has 6 years experience.

Have you and your preceptor been meeting with your director to gauge you progress? Are you meeting the facilities expectations for growth at this point in your orientation? Have you gotten feedback from other nurses on the floor? It sounds like she's overbearing, but I think a meeting with the director and your preceptor, as well as some self-reflection, is warranted. It may not be all on her.

hope3456, ASN, RN

1,263 Posts

Specializes in LTC, Psych, M/S.

You point out that "you are smart and top of your class." I hope you are not conveying that too much to your preceptor. You have to prove yourself just the same and If you have a "know it all" attitude she may be trying to bring you down. I am not saying that is the case, I don't know. I can tell you hospital work is tough. You do have to work at a fast pace and it could be she is just being honest with you and trying to help. It is difficult to orient and time consuming for the preceptor nurse so it is understandable they are not sunshine and roses. And no one is going to hold your hand after you are off orientation. I would try to grow thicker skin, ignore her attitude and learn as much as you can from her. Like the PP said, do some self reflection. If you absolutely feel that she is inappropriate (which could be the case) go to the director. I would say something like "I don't feel I'm learning what I should be, what can I do different?" Do not come across as a victim or a complainer. Good luck.

jadelpn, LPN, EMT-B

51 Articles; 4,800 Posts

You are a smart nurse. So know that this has little to do with you. I say that from the "I caught on quicker" statements. If it was not for that line of interaction, it would Seem as if the preceptor is pointing out the negatives, as you already have some sense of what you are doing, so pointing out what you do wrong is part of the process.

One of the best and most important pieces of advice that I ever received, and I carry with me to this day is "Know what you know, but be acutely aware of what you don't know" And I would add, if you don't know, use your resources to know where to find out.


4 Posts

It was hard for me to put into words what is happening. My director and nurse manager have nothing but positive things to say, my other preceptor was great and helped me progress. This one just wants to put me down. I've never boasted about my grades or success. I've talked to my old preceptor about this and she just tells me to keep my head up and that in 2 weeks I'll be on my own and to just hold out. This is more than just challenging me, it's putting me down and there's a big difference. I was in an emotional state when I wrote the first post but I understand it's hard to put it into words.

Specializes in NICU. Has 9 years experience.

I'm sorry you're going through this. I just had a similar experience, doing my final placement in school on a busy surgical floor. I felt like I was doing really well and my preceptor really liked me...then a week before the end of my placement she gave me her full assignment to handle and I got really overwhelmed and made a med error, and she had to help me with care on 2 patients (4/5 were total cares...they were going to split the assignment but assumed that since my nurse had me with her it would be fair). I felt terrible, made a learning plan, explained several times that I realized the seriousness of my mistake and what I learned from it. I tried really hard to improve my practice in the last week and felt I did really well...I wanted the job so badly. She gives me my final evaluation and rips me apart, saying I was awesome in the beginning but went downhill after she gave me the full assignment, that she doesn't think I'm cut out for fast-paced surgical nursing (when it is in fact, the kind of nursing I want to do). She compares me to her other students, saying that they never had any problem, and that she won't be recommending me for a job. Because I was overwhelmed on the first day on my own, and made one mistake. I'm still a student! Needless to say I told her that I respected her opinion and would take everything she said into account to make changes to improve my practice....but that I disagreed with her that the surgical floor wasnt for me and that it was what I wanted to do and will do it.

So, I know exactly how you feel. I would take your preceptors critiques into account, let her know you respect her opinion, try to make changes to your practice...and prove her wrong.

All the best.

RNperdiem, RN

4,591 Posts

Has 14 years experience.

Being a new nurse is a emotional experience and I remember confidence being a fragile thing.

I had a preceptor like the one you describe, but I thought of her a little differently. Her style was direct with little fluff. In communication, she was more like a man-straight up and to the point. If I wasn't doing something well, she told me. However unpleasant it was to hear the truth, she gave me honest feedback, and that is what I needed. Her job was to teach me how to be the best nurse I could be; my preceptor figured I was strong enough to handle the truth.

I also had a second preceptor who was warmer and more nurturing. Being one of the more timid nurses, my second preceptor helped me get over my fears and get on with business. I learned that confidence would have to be earned through hard work one day at a time.

Between the two of them, I had an excellent orientation, and I am grateful to them both.

Best of luck to you getting through this growing phase.


4 Posts

Thanks everyone I'm going to change my outlook and try to take charge of my learning experience.. Definitely need to grow thicker skin but every experience has something to teach us


38,333 Posts

A nurse who was at the top of her class where I used to live, got bounced from a hospital and became the talk of the nursing community, like in they cut her down to size. It is not wise to let it be known that you graduated at the top of your class. If someone in the hiring process sang your praises, they didn't do you any favors. Not saying this is the case here, but it is a possibility.


4 Posts

Nobody knew about my grades I came from a different state. I wasn't bragging just making a statement. But I don't see why people would do that in the first place. Just because someone is smart doesn't mean you have to attack them and bring them down. What is wrong with people


348 Posts

The world is filled with jealous and bitter people. I grew up with a father like that. Every day of my life his aim was to bring me down. I've learned a lot about how to deal with these types of people through cognitive-behavioral therapy with a psychologist, yoga, meditation and Buddhism. I've learned that my reality is not the reality of others, and I do not have to take on their reality. I have learned that my mind and body are the only ones I can control, I cannot change theirs.

I hope you find a way to let it go, and find peace in your life. It's way too short to waste it on unenlightened people like your preceptor.

Specializes in orthopedic/trauma, Informatics, diabetes. Has 11 years experience.

I think some of the "push" is part of the precepting experience. My preceptor was great, seriously the best. but she would do things like you have described, but not so negative. She would ask me id I done something when she had been by my side for 3 hours. She knew I did not do X, but would ask anyway. I would get interrupted during charting and I felt that if she was asking, I needed to stop and do whatever she asked about. It wasn't until I had a 2 others, we rotate so we learn different people's styles, and I got the same kind of push, that I realized is part of it. I had long talk with one of them about interrupting me and about the way I found that I liked to do things. I asked the I be given some credit fro being able to think and just because I did not do things the way THEY did them, doesn't mean I do them "wrong". They respected that and we went forward.

I think it is part of the process and you will appreciate it when it is all over. I would, however, talk to this person, respectfully, about the negativity. She should not be doing your work for you. You have your own license and you are responsible. She should be there to help you, not enable and then criticize.

I hope you can sort things out. Be positive!!!