Ask the expert: Defining criteria for preceptor selection

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, October 9, 2009

This week, Diana Swihart, PhD, DMin, MSN, CS, RN-BC, discusses criteria to look for when hiring a preceptor.

Q: When a nurse wants to become a preceptor, what type of skills should I be looking for?

A: Not every experienced/educated/successful person is able to precept another. Precepting is a process that transforms work environments into learning environments for adults with specific goals. Its success is grounded in respectful one-to-one interpersonal interactions that encourage and facilitate the personal growth and professional development of preceptors. Preceptors must have the ability to visibly demonstrate how they resolve important issues. As role models they share their expertise and experience in pragmatic ways the invite preceptees to emulate them.

When establishing the criteria that nurses need in order to be preceptors, being with the following:

  • A minimum of two years' experience in nursing
  • Acceptable length of time and experience in the unit/area of the preceptorship
  • Acceptable performance evaluations
  • Acceptable attendance records
  • Current in all unit competencies and annual training requirements
  • Education/advanced specialty certification requirements
  • Attendance at a preceptor workshop, if available

Before accepting a preceptee, you must understand and accept the role required of the preceptor.

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