Preceptorship w/ no single preceptor assigned??

Specialties General Specialties


* I also posted this in the nurse educator forum, but thought posting in general might be better. I apologize for the duplicates in advance!


I am a last-semester nursing student, and I have just completed my first two shifts in my preceptorship assignment in preop/PACU. This assignment was not my first choice, but I decided to make the best of it. At first, I was told by my contact that I could simply make my own schedule and I would follow several nurses depending on the day. My clinical instructor said I needed to be assigned one or two preceptors. I was then assigned one, but she is the charge nurse, so she simply has me follow her for a bit, then has me follow one or two nurses after she starts doing her "charge nurse thing".  I am getting frustrated, because it feels as though I am being forced upon nurses that did not sign up to have a student accompany them, and it doesn't feel like a preceptorship experience at all. I have to re-introduce myself to each nurse, and then let them know that I am checked off to do most any skill. Of course I thought preceptorship would involve more learning to take ownership of a nurse's daily tasks, time management, etc. this simply feels like another unit rotation. I don't think I can change my assignment now, but I'm hoping that you all as nurse educators might have some words of wisdom for me, to try to get some value out of this final experience. I don't want to continually complain to my school's coordinator, but I feel like I don't know what else to do to advocate for my own learning experience?  I did try to get my assignment changed before preceptorship began, but was told there was nothing else. For context, I really want to be an OR nurse, and will apply to any OR new grad programs I can, but for now I am feeling defeated by this final clinical experience, that I was hoping to gain more from. Also, our clinical instructors are not on-site with us, and the instructor I was assigned to is not even a regular faculty member at my school. I have not even met her in person, only one time over zoom prior to starting preceptorship, so it feels very disconnected from my school program.  Any advice GREATLY appreciated!!

lilblue, LVN

15 Posts

Specializes in Pediatric Private Duty.

When I was in school to become an LVN, I did not get as much clinical experience as I would like, partially for some of the same reasons you mentioned, especially the feeling of being forced upon nurses who didn't sign up to have a student with them. I understand you want to work in the OR as well.

However, in order to have other nurses willing to let you do things, perhaps try from the start of your clinical shift once you meet whichever nurse you're going to be with, to let them know that you're happy to help make their load lighter by perhaps doing all of their vital signs, or other tasks. If they see that you won't slow them down during their day, they may become friendlier with you and let you more.

For instance if you're on a med-surg unit, you can go and check on all the patients and see if there's anything you can bring them so that their nurse doesn't have to deal with the "non-nursing" specific tasks like bringing them blankets or cups of water (make sure they aren't NPO!) or what have you. You can also ask the charge nurse where extra gloves or PPE are kept and restock each area of the unit that needs more gloves or masks etc.

I did most of my clinical experience in the ER (which is not at all where I've ended up so far!) so I went around helping to clean and set up rooms (remove sheets, wipe down beds and pulse ox cables, restock any supplies each room needed, etc.) Just by being someone who made things easier for whichever nurse was "stuck with a student," I made them more likely to let me do skills like place IVs or give injections etc.

I also saw students from other programs and schools and the ones that annoyed the other nurses the most were students that just stood there and didn't offer to do anything. There were BSN students all huddled in a group basically hiding near the elevator in a corner so they could get out of doing anything. Some of my own classmates either refused to do a skill (there was a stroke code and a classmate was asked to place an NG tube and she said no!) or were not prepared (didn't have a pen light or stethoscope).

Our instructors explained during our first semester that we must be willing to do tasks that don't seem like a nurse would do them (like help to change a brief or get a patient onto a bedpan, which too many RN students think is beneath them) and then some nurses are more likely to see you actually want to help and will often give you assignments, or teach you new things.

Anyway, I would try to make the best of it, even if you aren't training in the specialty you'd like, the skills you learn in clinical can help you even in other areas like the OR. Be willing to help out with anything. Even if it doesn't help you get nurses to want you to follow them (most are overworked, tired, and the last thing they want is a student hovering around), you will be seen as a team player and at the very least, you can network with other staff members or learn something new.

I hope that helps and good luck!

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