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Student Nurse Preceptorship Help


Hello everyone,

I am a senior BSN student in Los Angeles. I have found out I have test scores high enough that I can pick a specialty for my preceptorship, instead of having to do med-surg. I am a little conflicted as to what specialty I want to pursue. I have strong interests in both ED and OR. I have spent one day in each setting during nursing school and liked both, seeing both the positive and negative attributes of each unit.

However, what would be better to precept in? I hear ED is great to build skills, priority setting, time management, and gives you a good foundation for any nursing position.

But I like that the OR is focused on one patient at a time and very organized/structured. I really think I could thrive in this setting. But with such limited exposure to this environment, it is hard to say.

My fear is if I do OR for my preceptorship, and I don't like it, it could then be more difficult to get a non-OR job out of school because my preceptorship is so specialized and not reflective of typical patient care. But if I love it and decide to pursue OR after graduating, I certainly think it would help get a job!

Or should I do ED to get a good foundation that I believe would help me when applying to a broader range of nursing positions, including new grad ER programs.

Also, does anyone know how difficult is it to get hired into the OR without experience? Same with ED, is a preceptorship in ED recommended for new grads?

I am really conflicted between the two because they are both so interesting to me. I would love to hear some thoughts and opinions! Thank you :)


Specializes in L&D, infusion, urology. Has 2 years experience.

I would go with ED. It is VERY rare for OR positions to get filled by new grads, even more rare than ED positions. Not to mention the wider scope of what you'll see.

Don't get overly caught up in your preceptorship locking you into a specific area of nursing. I precepted in mother baby (postpartum), and while the managers of units relating to that love it, I have a second interview on Monday for an ICU position, and if I don't get that, the manager wants to interview me for ED. I also almost got another ED position, but there was a last minute internal candidate.

Thank you for the advice! I am leaning towards ED also. I think it would be great exposure. I'm glad to hear you are getting ED/ICU interviews without having to precept in those units! I think you're right and I'm putting too much importance on the preceptorship part of nursing school and not all of the experiences I have had collectively.

Thanks again :)

If it is possible to get an internship in a specialty area of your choice at a hospital that hires new grads, you should try to get it! Why? It will give you a better idea if you like that area or not. And if your preceptor likes you and believes you a great potential because you did a fabulous job, was interested in learning & doing, and is a "go-getter", he/she can put in a word for you and get you an interview!

Will all of the preceptors do that? No. But if you get the right one...they just might. Like me😁! I saw the potential in a student intern after 1 shift with her because her preceptor was sick that shift. I did talk to my boss about her saying I wanted her interviewed if she applied (which I NEVER say to my boss). I told her I thought she should apply which she did. We did interview and hire her.

New grads do hire into the O.R. at my hospital. The problem is that if you want to leave, you aren't trained for anything else. But then again you might really like it and never leave. Keep in mind that it may take a few jobs in different areas to find your niche that makes you happy. A nurse versus student perspective may be very different and you won't really know until you actually do the job. Good Luck to you!

KelRN215, BSN, RN

Specializes in Pedi. Has 14 years experience.

I would go with ED, it will give you more diverse experience. OR is very specialized. Though if you have the opportunity to precept in the OR, you are very fortunate. That was not offered as a preceptorship placement when I was in school. I don't think the hospital that I worked in hired new grads into the OR but most OR hires were internal transfers and they had a very comprehensive training program.

Your skills will be very narrow in the OR. There will be carry over if you wanted to try something later down the road and you'll find it to be a difficult transition.