Relationships are hard, especially new ones. Working with a new preceptor as a nursing student, new grad RN, or even a new hired RN can be a difficult experience. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Having gone through many preceptor experiences…some bad and some great, I have compiled a list of advice to be the best preceptor you can be for a nursing student.
Everyone learns a little differently. Sometimes it takes hearing a concept a different way for things to click. If your student looks confused, they are more than likely confused. Try approaching the concept in a different way with diagrams or hands-on practice with the supplies. Everyone learns differently. Remember this.
LAY THE FOUNDATION
Discuss the kind of preceptor you are and make sure that the student is okay with this. Ask the student how they best learn and if they are sensitive to criticism or not. The worst thing you can do is start off on the wrong foot. This will only increase the student’s anxiety.
TALK THINGS THROUGH
The best way to see if your student is understanding something is to have them explain it back to you. Have them talk through the concept. Then you reinforce their knowledge by adding in points. This will help drill in the knowledge.
REMEMBER YOU ONCE WERE A STUDENT
We all started off in the same place, as timid nursing students. The experiences with your first preceptors can make or break your nursing practice. My friend nearly gave up on nursing because of being bullied by her preceptor. I am aware that everyone has a different sensitivity level to tough love, but this is part of the getting to know each other phase.
EXPECT SAFETY TO BEGIN WITH, NOTHING MORE
Do not expect your nursing student to know everything. They are not experts yet…but you are. The only thing you should hold your student accountable for is performing safe care. However, before they do anything have them explain their steps in full detail (with you adding in anything they may have forgotten) then observe them performing this skill. The talking through helps reinforce this knowledge.
If there is downtime, discuss everything that was completed during the day. Don’t let the shift be wasted because you are too tired to be the best you can be. Remember, you offered to take this student…and you are getting paid more to do so. You are making an impact on the nurse they will become for the rest of their lives. Be the preceptor you wish you had in nursing school.