How to Deal With a Slow Preceptee
Nicole Lehr | Scrubs Magazine
It seems that your preceptee hasn’t quite mastered the art of time management and, well, efficiency. You have three patients assigned to you and it’s 10 a.m. and your preceptee has yet to even see the third. Come 6 p.m., there are two patients whose charts have been empty since 12 hours prior, and you have to wait around an hour after your shift to let the tortoise catch up on charting. How do you deal with this?
The most important thing is to be patient. Patience is the key to sanity when orienting new nurses who just may not be catching on. Here are a couple of tips for keeping these nurses on track.
Build their confidence
Ask the charge nurse from the previous shift to assign patients who may be on the easier side, even if just for a day. If that new nurse can manage easier patients and keep up for one day, it may do remarkable things for his confidence. As you may remember from the beginning of your own career, less confidence meant doubting your every move, which equated to less efficient nursing. Boosting your preceptee’s confidence may make a world of difference.
Observe and make suggestions
Is your preceptee spending 45 minutes doing morning assessments? Observe him while he’s performing morning assessments and make suggestions on ways to speed up the process while still being thorough. Are there orders that were left from night shift that weren’t carried out? Prioritize them and perhaps carry out the one most important order first, then do the others the next time you come into the room.
Share time-saving tips
Share tips on time saving, such as gathering all supplies that will be needed for each assessment of the patients. This eliminates the need to leave the room and return multiple times during one task. Just like the idea of clustering care for the benefit of the patient, cluster your tasks for your benefit.
Is your preceptee the loquacious type who forms a rapport with patients right off the bat and becomes a sounding board upon walking in the door? Commend him on his bedside manner—not all nurses have that naturally, and with great bedside manner comes a well-liked and well-respected nurse. However, that nurse can’t do his job and care for all the patients if he is stuck in a room for an hour. Encourage the nurse to be honest with the families and tell them that he will be back as soon as he sees his other patients.
Set time goals
Set time goals throughout the shift—e.g., you must have all morning assessments charted before 11 a.m. or you must make sure that all of your meds are signed off prior to eating lunch. This could sound harsh, but it gives your preceptee goals to work toward. Charting should never take precedence over patient care, but charting in somewhat real time is important for keeping the patient progress up to date for those who look through the chart, like doctors and ancillary care.
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