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Nurse Precepting - Tips on How to be Successful

When starting any new job, the person who trains you is likely to make a lasting impression.  Inexperienced nurses often experience an exceptional attachment to the person who precepts them, as this person serves as a trustworthy mentor and a dependable listener to lean on.

Nurses often strive to be the best preceptor they can be because they remember when they were in that uncomfortable position. However, precepting can be challenging when your knowledge is limited to your own personal experience. This article will demonstrate the goals to focus on, and important tips, and tricks for becoming the best nurse preceptor in your unit.

Preceptor goals

  • Provide valuable teaching and learning experiences
  • Be a role model for safe patient care
  • Be a role model for evidence-based practice
  • Be a role model for attitude and expectations for a positive unit culture

First Day

As you recall, joining an entirely new group of nurses can be intimidating. Therefore, it’s your responsibility as a preceptor to ease the nurse’s anxieties and provide the best overall experience.

Start with asking your new nurse:

  • What do you want to get out of working together during your orientation?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • How do you learn best?
  • What nursing skills would you like to develop during our time together?
  • What fears do you have about this job?
  • How can I help you the most?

Your nurse educators may ask similar questions.

Tips for the Nurse Preceptor

  • Read the new nurse materials that are provided to you. Take time to study it before training begins.
  • Identify resources that may help the new nurse. Consider books that have helped you in the past, or websites you currently utilize in your practice.
  • Deliver clear communication. Provide your nurse with specific directions for the day. When you receive your assignment, devise a “plan of attack” with your nurse. Explain your process to the nurse so they can adapt and use this system within their own practice.
  • Create a positive relationship. Start with the experience software that you used when you were onboarding. Share your struggles to prevent them from feeling alone. Communicate a clear deadline and time frame with each goal.

Teach, Reteach, and Praise

 As a preceptor, your objective is to serve as a reliable resource. This may involve correcting errors and identifying potential challenges.  You have to help them think critically and use their clinical judgment. Over time, they will catch on.

Always maintain an encouraging attitude when offering feedback. Begin with a positive statement, and then add any constructive criticism you may have for them to improve.

You should consistently serve as an ongoing mentor, even after orientation is complete. It’s common to think of questions after orientation when the nurse has begun practicing independently. They may ask their charge nurse, but it’s much more comfortable to ask the person you have been working with for weeks.

 Put your time toward teaching. During any downtime that you may have, educate the nurse on important lessons you have learned along your journey. Try picking one of your patients and thoroughly reviewing their history, current nursing interventions, medications and reasoning, and lab values to look out for.

 Ultimately, effective precepting is all about patience. Take the time to remember how you felt when you were new, and recognize the importance of quality training to master the environment, systems, daily activities, and patients.

Nurse Precepting - Tips on How to be Successful
Janine Kelbach

Janine Kelbach, RNC-OB is a freelance writer and owner of WriteRN.net.