To My Preceptor

As a brand new nurse, straight out of school and on a busy Med/Surg floor, I found out very quickly that the 'NCLEX world' and the 'real world' are two very different places- and that the journey to acclimation in my new world would be a long and difficult transition; especially in those first few months. Scared, clueless and internalizing the steep learning curve ahead, it didn't take long to realize that a good preceptor is not only essential in this crucial phase but completely worth their weight in gold. I am blessed to say, in this regard, I hit the jackpot! Nurses General Nursing Article

Throughout my orientation, I found not just a preceptor, but a mentor, a colleague and a friend. I am forever grateful that, for me, she provided a safe environment free of hostility and judgment - but one conducive to teaching, learning and growing. I ended my orientation with many of her pearls of wisdom, nuggets of knowledge and the confidence to know I am on my way to one day being the nurse God created me to be. I only hope she knows how truly special she is!

To my preceptor:

With your many years in nursing, I know I am just another face; just another mindless new grad - clueless, jittery and slow. Although my face will soon fade from your memory, yours will forever be present in mine. Your razor sharp intelligence, your thick gritty exterior, your invaluable experience, and warm, compassionate heart have helped mold me into the nurse God has called me to be.

The worst kept secret in nursing is the difficulty transitioning from 'student nurse' to 'real nurse'; and boy is that transition rough. No amount of schooling, studying, or clinical time will ever truly prepare you for 'real world nursing'. It much reminds me of the military. Basic training is absolutely essential in laying the foundation for a good soldier, but it will never prepare him for the gruesome reality of war. The process of such a transition is quite difficult and at times extremely painful. For this I am forever grateful for your willingness to help me weather the blustery storms that blow through the trenches of nursing. Thank you for being my battle-buddy.

Thank you for sharing your wealth of knowledge with me. Thank you for showing me how to prioritize in the real world and explaining that not everything is a crisis. Thank you for nurturing my fragile, almost non-existent confidence. Thank you for not making me feel absolutely incompetent for asking silly, mindless, and seemingly basic questions. Thank you for teaching me to pop in a piece of gum when I feel the urge to cry in front of my patients. This will hold the tears at bay until I can make it to the supply closet; with this I can hold it together and remain a strong pillar of strength for my patients in the midst of highly emotional situations. Thank you for showing me what it really means to be a patient advocate.

Thank you for forfeiting those sacred moments of 'down time' you rarely seem to find to instead graciously help me better understand those wonky tele strips. Thank you for always reassuring me and reminding me that everyone makes mistakes - even you. Thank you for reminding me that every mistake, every error, ever near miss must be taken as an opportunity to learn and to grow. Thank you for pushing me, for giving me just enough rope to feel uncomfortably independent, but not enough to hang myself. Thank you for reminding me that this unnerving phase in my nursing career is much like a jigsaw puzzle - the pieces are there, but figuring out how they fit together takes a little time. Thank you for your incredible patience with a bright eyed, bushy tailed, green-as-green-can-get new nurse.

With this I must say, you were so very right. The tears, the long hours, the doubts, the frustrations and fear are all worth it when your patient tells you that yes, you were the calming presence in a painful, scary situation. Yes, to you I am just another face, but to me, you are the physical embodiment of the confidence, focus, peace, compassion, and patience I prayed for in a preceptor every night. Although I am only a few steps out of the gate and have many, many more to go- thank you for helping this turtle come out of her shell. I only hope that someday I can provide a scared, inexperienced, doe-eyed novice the same guidance you have provided me!

They have also done the same for doctors during our transition from being medical students to interns. I will always be grateful. My tribute to them.

You literally took the words out of my mouth. I am currently going through the transition from student to actual nurse. It really is a shock. I knew passing NCLEX would be a challenge, and finding a job would be difficult. However, I never really calculated the transition of becoming a nurse. Thank you for posting this, it will serve as a reminder that all these uncertainties you have during transition are normal.

As a brand new nurse myself, fresh off orientation I also was lucky enough to have a preceptor like the one written about here. Unfortunately, I also had a one that was not quite as kind and left me feeling like I had chosen the wrong career. Thank GOD for the good ones. This letter almost made me cry...and then I popped a piece of gum ;-)

Specializes in SRNA.

I am glad you had an awesome preceptor! I only hope I do too! I have to say you sound very sweet and thoughtful and I am sure you are an excellent nurse and will make a great preceptor too! Thanks for sharing.

Specializes in Critical Care, Float Pool Nursing.

Precepting is generally less work than working the floor. Preceptors should be thanking orientees, not the other way around.

Specializes in Nurse Scientist-Research.
RNdynamic said:
Precepting is generally less work than working the floor. Preceptors should be thanking orientees, not the other way around.

True for lazy preceptors. Opposite of true for decent preceptors. To me, it's far more work to properly supervise and (at least at the beginning) explain & provide rationale for every action. Then, the mental anguish of allowing a preceptee the opportunity to do skills slowly and stopping and correcting, and starting over, and so on. . . When I could have been done in 1/10 the time and moving on to the next task.

Wrong! Way more work. Our unit struggles tremendously to get enough preceptors.

After finishing day 1 of my nursing career today (morning shift on a busy tele/medsurg floor in NY), I have to say I envy your position. It was super frustrating to try and get into someone else's "flow" and I understand it all comes in time but my preceptor has been a nurse for 2 years. It sure did show..

I've dealt with some great teaching nurses during school but to me (at least after one day) it doesn't seem like this RN is one of them..

Specializes in ICU.

I also got extremely lucky in the preceptor department. Twice. First as a new grad med surg float. She was just awesome and we clicked. Easy going, helpful, never made me feel stupid.

4 month later ( which was 4 months into my nursing career) in the same hospital I switched to float to MICU. I got such a sweet and knowledgable preceptor who, again, never ever belittled me. We actually became good friends.

I also got lucky in the hospital choice. I wish I was still there. Management treated us great, doctors treated is great for the most part, when making an honest error you did not have to worry about your job. You were taught to leArn from it.

when you have these great things, cherish them. I always have

Specializes in Critical Care, Float Pool Nursing.

It sounds pretty bad there.. Preceptorship is a learning experience for both the preceptor and orientee. I've oriented people. It's only time consuming if you're letting the orientee handle a full assignment at the beginning, which you shouldn't do.

That's wonderful! I wish I had the same experience during my first year out of school. I have had so many trainers and preceptors that it has been an uphill battle the entire time. I would even go as far as to say that it was worse than going through school. But, I know that every experience is a chance to grow and learn and I will be a terrific nurse one day. Thanks for sharing this and knowing that maybe one day I can make a positive difference in someone else's experience.

A good preceptor is priceless. The role of the preceptor is important in helping to develop the new nurse who is in the process of adjusting to a new job, a new work environment, and a new culture. Many hospitals still have high 1st year turnover rates for new nurses. It is expensive to orient new nurses, only to have them leave before the 1st year ends. A well prepared and caring preceptor can make all the difference in whether the new nurse stays or leaves.

Precepting is an important role for which the nurse needs to be properly prepared. In my learning environment, we offer a Preceptor Workshop that prepares the experienced nurse to facilitate the orientation and development of the entry level nurse or the nurse that is experienced but newly employed at the hospital. Covered topics include assessing learner needs, making assignments that help the nurse meet clinical objectives, teaching methods, and evaluation methods. Preceptors have a designed experience precepting a new nurse under the direction of an educaton specialist. The program has been very successful. Investing in a new nurse is investing in the profession and the patients we care for.