A Nurse Preceptor is an experienced and competent staff Nurse who serves as a role model and point person to newly employed staff Nurses, student Nurses, or new graduate Nurses, according to Lippincott Solutions.
Nurse Preceptors are a great resource for employees who are making the transition into a new work environment. They provide useful feedback, set learning objectives, teach hospital protocols and encourage critical thinking.
A Nurse transition program will result in better retention rates and improved competency among Nursing staff because it creates a continuous learning environment.
An effective Preceptor program should include:
- Adequate education and preparation in the form of a Preceptor course
- A clear definition of the roles and responsibilities of the Preceptor
- Support from the unit manager. The Preceptor should meet regularly with the manager to discuss the progress of the orientee/student.
- Sufficient time to orient the orientee/student. Ideally, the Preceptor should have a reduced workload during the period when the orientee/student is dependent on the Preceptor to function in his/her assigned role.
According to Becker's Hospital Review, after the training program and once the Preceptor has orientated a few Nurses, they should be surveyed on the effectiveness of the program. The Preceptor will be able to evaluate the program concerning how well it prepared them to train other Nurses.
A good Nurse Preceptor will:
- Develop a professional working relationship with their preceptee. The relationship will be built in mutual respect, appreciation, and ongoing communication.
- Be patient and understanding. As you know, everyone has to start somewhere and that means mistakes will be made.
- Be clear and specific in the teaching/learning process.
- Ask open-ended questions.
- Share your expectations, the job description and job duties with your preceptee.
- Acquaint the new Nurse to the unit and the unit's unique Nursing culture.
If any concerns surface, the preceptee should complete a written self-assessment of the situation. The Preceptor should seek additional input from their Nurse Manager and other Nurses working with the preceptee.
Preceptor programs that provide the right information and tools are essential for successful transitions of newly employed Nurses into patient care environments. Hospitals have a responsibility to provide Preceptors with the knowledge and skills required to provide instructions and evaluations of their preceptees.