Ask the expert: Nurses become teachers in preceptor role

HCPro's Weekly Update on the ANCC Magnet Recognition Program®*, July 21, 2009

This week, a reader asks how to prepare new nurse preceptors for their role as nurses that are teachers. Read the response from advisor Diana Swihart, PhD, DMin, MSN, CN, RN-BC, ANCC Magnet Recognition Program® (MRP) director at Bay Pines VA Healthcare System in Bay Pines, FL.

Q: We are about to hold a workshop to prepare nurses to be preceptors for the first time. What advice should we give them about working with new nurses on their clinical practice?

A: Preceptors must continuously assess where preceptees are in the orientation process. Revise the orientation to reflect their changing needs. Give them respectful guidance:

  • Do not assume that preceptees are familiar with the clinical setting or the situation. Discuss what they know before deciding what they need.
  • Ask questions to confirm comprehension and perceptions and to generate further discussion. Case studies, debriefings, and shared stories are excellent tools for giving directions, confirming competency, or redirecting behaviors.
  • Include explanations as you go. Preceptees respond more positively and effectively when they understand from the onset why they are doing the requested tasks or behaviors.

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