From the staff development bookshelf: Precepting advanced beginners in staff development

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, July 15, 2011

Some staff development colleagues automatically assume that all staff development personnel make good preceptors and mentors. After all, don't we plan and implement preceptor and mentor programs for the clinical staff? Don't we make suggestions regarding who will be a good clinical preceptor and who will not? If we plan and implement preceptor and mentor programs shouldn't we also be able to precept and mentor members of our own specialty? Sadly, the answer to these questions is "no."

Preceptors assume that role for a fixed period of time. They are responsible for helping a new employee or an employee who is assuming a new role to acquire those competencies necessary to successfully complete orientation. The preceptor often has formal authority over the preceptor and has input into whether or not the orientee actually succeeds.

Much patience is still required of those who precept advanced beginners. Here are some questions to help in the self-examination of the proposed preceptor of the advanced beginner (often filling the role of unit-based educator).

  • Do I support the role of the advanced beginner in staff development? Or do I think that all staff development personnel should be prepared at the graduate level and function as NPD specialists
  • Am I willing to spend considerable time helping the advanced beginner acquire skills in offering basic types of education such as inservice and just-in-time training? Or do I find planning inservice and just-in-time training boring?
  • Am I willing to work with managers to promote the role of the advanced beginner?
  • Am I willing to take time from my own responsibilities (including my own professional growth opportunities) to precept an advanced beginner?
  • Do I have the patience (and am I willing to exercise that patience) to teach basic principles of staff development?

Source: Book excerpt adapted from Professional Growth in Staff Development:
Strategies for New and Experienced Educators
by Adrianne E. Avillion, D.Ed, RN.

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