How to Be a Good Preceptor
Marijke Durning | NursingLink
So, you’ve been asked to be a preceptor. It’s a challenge you’ve been waiting for and now it’s time to do it. So, what does it take to be a good preceptor?
Being a good preceptor isn’t easy; doing the job well is invaluable. Do you remember when you were a student? Do you remember how you felt learning new things in a new place? Whether your experience was good or one that left a lot to be desired, you likely learned things that helped you become a good nurse now. And if you didn’t have a good preceptor, you definitely learned how NOT to be a preceptor!
5 Important Thoughts to Remember
1- We all have our own learning styles. Some people learn visually, some by doing, and yet others by reading or listening. Keep in mind that as teachers, our style of learning is not necessarily that of the nurses we are precepting.
2- Learning is a process. Some people learn certain concepts more quickly than others, but learning is always a process. We don’t learn just one thing in isolation; we learn one concept and then we use that knowledge to expand our expertise in order to learn other concepts. If someone is slow to learn a concept, time needs to be taken to reinforce it or to find another way to teach it.
3- Learning effectively, involves participation, repetition, and reinforcement. Watching someone, or reading about a procedure may give a new nurse an idea of how something is done, but until he actually does it himself, he can’t claim to know how. Medicine can’t be learned through just books and simulations, but needs hands-on experience as well.
4- Immediacy trumps “later.” As often happens in teaching and learning, the teacher – or preceptor in this case – teaches a skill, but the student doesn’t have a chance to apply the skill for a while. The sooner the skill can be practiced, the better the student can retain what she was taught and apply it appropriately.
5- Learners need variety. Although we do have different styles of learning, to enhance retention, the learning activities should be somewhat varied. A whole day of watching you do procedures is boring for a new nurse, just as reading policy and procedure manuals all day would boring for you.
Beginning the Preceptor/New Nurse Relationship
Plan your first day as much as is realistic. Of course, things change quickly in a hospital setting and you may not be able to follow your plan, so keep that in mind as well.
If you don’t know anything about the newest staff member, it’s important to take a few moments to introduce yourself and learn about your preceptee. There’s a big difference between a newly-minted nurse and one who has been working for a while but is coming into a new area of nursing.
Ask your preceptee questions such as:
• What her experience in nursing or in nursing school was like
• What she thinks about her new position
• What she expects to get out of the type of work she’ll be doing
• What does she expect to learn
• What does she feel she needs to learn