Two preceptors: two completely different approaches HELP!


I'm concerned about the 2 very different approaches that my preceptors have. By the 2nd day, my first preceptor wanted me to do almost all of the patient care and documentation, as well as multidisciplinary rounds. I was overwhelmed but also very excited! The second preceptor was a little more cautious, and held me back more (no documentation, no multidisciplinary rounds, no ventilatory suctioning, etc...). I like both preceptors, but I'm scared that the 2 different styles are going to conflict... How do I hold back with one and then put all the gears on with the other? Also, they have some different expectations, which seem minor... but may cause conflict. For example, one wants me to reposition the patient q2h while the other wants me to reposition q3h. One wants me to avoid double documenting, the other encourages me to overdocument to avoid legal ramifications...

Today, I asked preceptor #2 to clarify something... and I think I ended up pointing out something that preceptor #1 was not doing correctly (this was not intended at all!) Now preceptor #2 wants to talk to #1..... and I am really worried about the conflict this may cause.

So there are a number of issues here... I don't know what I should do. Should I work it out with the preceptors, contact my instructor.... or what?

Any input would be greatly appreciated!!

Esme12, ASN, BSN, RN

4 Articles; 20,908 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care, ED, Cath lab, CTPAC,Trauma. Has 43 years experience.

I think you need to take a deep breath and relax. I have this feeling you are the obsessing type of student (a typical nursing trait). Which isn't a bad thing.....but can overwhelm you, and the person who is teaching you.....with your inquiring mind, your quick intelligence, and thirst of knowledge. I'll bet your rapid fire line of questioning can be exhausting......and I mean that in the best way.;) I love students like that but it is just as important to learn how to rein in that enthusiasm sometimes. :hug:

I think that rapid firing of a steady stream of questions can be overwhelming to these preceptors. I think if there is a problem between the need to stay out of it, I think the difference between turning q2 or q3 shouldn't cause an international incident ;)......just so that the patient gets turned. Make a note which one likes which and remember you will set your own practice rules when you "grow up" (and I mean that lovingly) to be an RN with your own patients to care about.

Sometimes the nurse that allows you

to do almost all of the patient care and documentation, as well as multidisciplinary rounds. I was overwhelmed but also very excited!
isn't the best "TEACHER" and is just enjoying not having to care for patients that day.......and the preceptor that is more cautious and
was a little more cautious, and held me back more (no documentation, no multidisciplinary rounds, no ventilatory suctioning, etc...).
Is the preceptor that you will gain the most "learning" from even though less "exciting".

Maybe the clarification you asked about is something you should NOT EVEN be doing right now...........just food for thought.:idea:

Just like anything else.......sometimes we need to adapt how we learn to the style of the teacher or adapt our nursing style for the patient. It's about being adaptable. I think asking your instructor how best to handle this.... is the first step. Stay out of the unit politics. Keep a list of questions that pertain to each preceptor and ask that preceptor specifically unless it really can't wait......or go to your instructor.

Organization is key and I don't know if I have ever given you brain sheets.....they are a combination of what I have done and others have done (Daytonite, RIP) are a few. I wish you the best.

doc.gif mtpmedsurg.doc doc.gif 1 patient float.doc‎

doc.gif 5 pt. shift.doc‎

doc.gif finalgraduateshiftreport.doc‎

doc.gif horshiftsheet.doc‎

doc.gif report sheet.doc‎

doc.gif day sheet 2 doc.doc

critical thinking flow sheet for nursing students

student clinical report sheet for one patient


140 Posts

Specializes in Tele, Stepdown, Med/Surg, education. Has 10 years experience.


GREAT advice, and remember you will take a little of every nurse's style as you build your own. We all can't be the same.

allnurses Guide


3 Articles; 5,581 Posts

Specializes in Adult Internal Medicine. Has 12 years experience.

One more tidbit of advice: try and avoid saying things like "my other preceptor does it this way" or "I learned it this way" and stay open minded to learning new things. You don't want to be in the middle of two RNs that don't see eye-to-eye.


120 Posts

Thanks for the advice. This has been helpful, and I will try to look at the bigger picture here. It can be confusing when, in all my other clinicals, I have been responsible for documentation and communicating on some level to the doctor... And now to be held back here... I'm not saying it's wrong, but I'm not sure I'm meeting our course expectations... We are required to take on the RN's role in our preceptorship. However, I am also on a more intense unit (ICU), so I also understand why a preceptor might be more cautious...

I'll avoid getting involved in the discussion between the 2 RNs.... I was only asking preceptor #2 about 'breath sounds' - #1 used a term I have never used before...I also asked #1 about the term, but there was no further explanation when I went to research it.... (which is why I asked #2 to clarify the next day). I have a feeling that this may cause conflict as I saw #2 questioning another nurse about this term, and the other nurse appeared offended.

I just hope that this doesn't cause any ill feelings between us.

P.s. Thanks for those summary sheets - they look like they will be quite useful :):)