Tips For Being A Preceptor

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Specializes in Pediatrics. Has 2 years experience.

Such great suggestions on this thread. One thing I used to do while precepting was also to ask them to say something if they saw me deviating from their known standard of care and at the end of the day to both highlight 3 opportunities for improvement for one another. I found this to be helpful because it gave them a reason to really focus on what I was doing, have a regular opportunity to speak up about an authority figure's behavior so they've had lots of practice when it's necessary later and if the ofi was really a difference in state regs or hospital policy from last place, it gave us an opportunity to talk through what was required at new place.


Specializes in Clinical ICU/Hospital Administration. Has 32 years experience.

I was a non-stop preceptor for newbies to ICU, nursing students on their ICU rotation, transfers into ICU, etc.  It can be either the most irritating, frustrating, interfering thing in the world or (in my mind) the most influential task moving the art of nursing forward.  Humor was my tool.  I treated all my newbies as "wide eyed" infants for the first 10 minutes, sized them up and customized my approach to their learning styles.  Modifying all along the journey.  Much like nursing my patients.

What I hated the most was a preceptee whose behavior was cavalier.  Even though I knew it was probably anxiety, if the cavalier behavior continued, it clued me in that ICU was not a safe match for them.  Safe ICU practice requires alot of humility.  Confidence is one thing.  Acting like God's gift is another.

Quick story:  I transferred from one hospital to another within the same health system to get a better schedule to continue work on my MBA.  I was matched with Joe, a young nurse in his 20's with >2 year < 5 experience.  Cute, adorable, but gave me some concern!  So cocky!  So cavalier!  I spent 3 weeks of orientation to the unit and he was my preceptor.  During those weeks, newly found co-workers (in the getting to know you phase) would ask me.............. "why is Joe your preceptor?"  Well that told me something.  So after my orientation, my nurse manager had a meeting with me..." So, how's it going?  Ready to be on your own?"  I said something like, "Sure, but other RNs are wondering why you matched me with Joe?  I have more concerns with him than with me!"  And she looked me square in the eye and said, "Exactly."

If you have confidence in your own practice, precepting can be very rewarding.  Coming full circle, it's irritating, frustrating and inconvenient.  But if you're confident in your own practice, that must mean that somewhere along the line you had a great preceptor, right?  Pay it forward brothers and sisters in nursing!  Kype