Precepting Nurses Like a Pro: Advanced Strategies to Be the Best Nurse Preceptor

by | May 30, 2024 | Professional Development for Nurses | 0 comments

Are you a seasoned nurse looking to share your knowledge and empower the next generation? Becoming a precepting nurse is an incredibly rewarding way to shape the future of your profession, but it takes more than just clinical expertise.

In nursing education, preceptorship nursing programs offer valuable hands-on experience under the guidance of experienced nurses, bridging the gap between classroom learning and real-world clinical practice.

This blog post dives into advanced strategies to elevate your precepting skills. We’ll explore the definition of precepting, how to ask insightful questions, maximize learning opportunities, and guide new nurses toward critical thinking and confident practice. So, if you’re ready to become a precepting pro, get ready to take your skills to a whole new level!

precepting nurses

Check out my podcast episode regarding tips for new nurse preceptors.

Prefer to watch the video? 👇

Your Role and Responsibilities as a Nurse Preceptor

Once you’ve gone through orientation as a new nurse and feel comfortable in your role, it’s very easy to assume you can teach those skills to others with ease. I know this because I made that assumption a decade ago. I felt like a confident nurse and just assumed that I would automatically be a great preceptor. However, performing skills and teaching skills are, well, two different skill sets!

As a new preceptor, I needed context. I only had my own orientation experience to draw from, which, while it was great, it wasn’t all-encompassing. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Let’s get down to the basics of your role and responsibilities and build from there.

Your Goal as a Nurse Preceptor

Your goal is to train this new employee so they can safely work independently and together with the rest of the nursing team. It’s not to be their best friend or to be in charge of someone.


  • Nurse Preceptor: A preceptor is a registered nurse with experience and expertise who serves as a guide for a preceptee during their orientation period. Their responsibilities encompass equipping preceptees with essential clinical skills through instruction and feedback, and closely monitoring their progress to ensure they meet safety standards.
    • Ensures safe patient care, checks skills, and offers feedback.
    • Offering constructive criticism can become difficult if the relationship has become too casual.
    • If you need help as a precepting nurse, seek out advice from other preceptors on your unit: “I’m having difficulty with this, do you have any suggestions for what else I could try?”
  • Preceptee: A preceptee is a newly licensed nurse (RN) who’s enrolled in a structured orientation program. During this program, they work under the close supervision of a preceptor (more experienced nurse) to gain the necessary skills and experience to become competent and confident in their new role.
    • Ensure a relationship of psychological safety with your preceptee from the very beginning. And when they come to you with concerns, respond appropriately and do not gossip about what they shared with you.
  • Mentor: A more seasoned registered nurse who provides guidance and support to a licensed nurse beyond the structured learning environment of a formal orientation program.  Mentorship offers career advice and social support.
    • Provides encouragement and helps with social connections.
    • The preceptor can help the newbie find a nurse mentor (the mentor is not the preceptor).
  • Nursing Orientation: Nursing orientation is a structured program designed to introduce and integrate newly licensed nurses (preceptees) into a specific healthcare setting. This program equips them with the essential knowledge, skills, and attitudes required to safely and effectively care for patients within that particular unit or facility.

Prepare Appropriately

Ideally, the unit leader has made preparations for the preceptee orientation. This includes selecting a nurse preceptor ahead of time who best suits their needs based on their prior experience.

Precepting nurses need to be adequately equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to guide new nurses effectively. This includes understanding their role, communication strategies, teaching methods, and knowing how to adapt to different learning styles.

  • Assess Their Unique Needs: Check out the following aspects:
    • Clinical Experience and Background: The unit should also provide the preceptor with background information about their preceptee’s experience, or lack thereof, to help them plan where to begin. However, in reality, the preceptor may not receive much information, especially if the preceptee has experience beyond traditional clinical rotations.
    • Learning Preferences: During initial discussions, explore the preceptee’s preferred learning styles (visual, auditory, kinesthetic) to tailor teaching methods for optimal knowledge retention.
      • It’s the responsibility of the preceptor to adapt and adjust both the assignments and teaching style based on ongoing observations of the preceptee’s abilities.
  • Vibe Check: Schedule a brief introductory meeting with the preceptee before their first shift. This informal conversation allows you to assess their comfort level, communication style, and overall disposition. It helps establish a foundation for a positive and productive learning experience.

Tracking progress is critical because it is very easy to forget the experiences you have had. Shifts tend to mentally blend together, and it’s necessary to be able to look back at where this new nurse was two, three, and four weeks prior, to ensure you are making appropriate progress. Your hospital likely has a required document for this.

How To Leverage Your Experience Level For Success

Whether you’re an advanced beginner, highly experienced, or somewhere in between, you have something to offer the new nurses in your unit. The key is your level of self-awareness. Let’s discuss these two types of precepting nurses.

Advanced Beginner

An advanced beginner nurse who has recently completed their learning process and has fresh knowledge of policies might consider stepping into this role. Feeling confident on the unit and eager for a new challenge, they understand the questions that new nurses often grapple with. Though they recognize the gaps in their knowledge, they also remember what those knowledge gaps were like.

If you’re an advanced beginner ➡️ You must remember that you don’t know everything and still have a lot to learn.

Experienced Nurse

A very experienced nurse with extensive precepting experience might also be suitable. They can assess a new nurse’s critical thinking effectively, have many experiences to share, and a large knowledge base to pull from.

If you’re a highly experienced nurse ➡️ You must remember that things change rapidly, and maybe the way you were taught (or the way you’ve always done things) is not necessarily best practice anymore, and you may need to brush up on policy changes.

The further we get from being the new nurse on the unit, the harder it can be to remember the struggles and questions we once had. Ensure you maintain a tone in your professional relationship in which your preceptee feels comfortable asking you questions and for support. This means you should not respond poorly when they ask questions.

Qualities of a Good Nurse Preceptor

While you look forward to getting to know your preceptee personally over time, your focus, in the beginning, as a precepting nurse, is understanding your preceptee as a student and being aware of their learning style.

Aware of Learning Styles of New Nurses

Ask your preceptee what kind of background they have. Meaning…

  • New Graduate: Someone fresh out of school. Something I keep in mind is that experience varies greatly between programs.
    • Did you get a wide variety of hands-on experiences during clinical rotations or some type of ‘internship’, or…
    • Were you restricted either by the school or hospital policies on what you could even attempt?
    • Were you a CNA, or is your experience limited to the controlled environment of the program?
  • Transitional Nurse: In my case, this is a nurse that has worked in some other department and is now new to neuro/critical care.
    • Did you work on a med/surg floor with experience related to my unit? Or…
    • Did you work in an unrelated area of practice, but are excited to try something new?
  • Experienced Nurse: Slightly different than transitional, in that I consider this to be a nurse who has experience working in critical care.
    • Are you new to the neuro specialty? Or…
    • Do you have experience in neurocritical care, but are new to my facility?

Regardless of your prior experience, other important questions for the precepting nurse to ask the preceptee are:

  • Do you learn best by first reading, seeing, or doing things hands-on? Does it depend on the specific scenario?
  • Are you a direct person who is going to tell me what is or is not working?
  • Are you more introverted, so I need to observe your non-verbal cues more closely?

Models Good Nursing Care

The first few shifts with your preceptee will be them shadowing you. As a precepting nurse, make sure to narrate what you’re doing while also supporting staffing and helping out. Narration helps the preceptee understand the care being provided and also lets them see your thought process when it comes to patient care. This can be very beneficial to aid in advancing your preceptee’s critical thinking skills.

Selective About Assignments

Making an assignment is probably one of the most challenging things I do as a preceptor. The general guideline is to start with the simple and work toward the more complex. Sound easy? I can assure you that it’s not. These are just some of the considerations I think about when making an assignment:

  • Where are we in orientation?
  • Is this Day One with a new grad?
  • Are we nearing the end of orientation when I need to assess your readiness to be done?
  • Are we at some point in between?
  • What experiences have we had so far in orientation?
  • What types of patients have we cared for?
    • A fresh stroke who received alteplase?
    • A patient with an aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage?
    • A seizure patient?
  • What kinds of assessments have you done?
  • Do you have a good grasp of a “normal” neurological assessment?
  • Are you proficient at assessing a comatose patient?
  • Have you cared for a patient whose exam is worsening?
  • What kinds of equipment/technical skills do you need to experience?
  • Have you cared for a patient on vasoactive medications?
  • Can you efficiently care for a ventilated patient?
  • Have you assisted providers with bedside procedures like central line or ventriculostomy insertions?

Remember the general goal of increasing the patient acuity level as we advance through orientation? There are many things that will have an impact on this progression:

  • Experience Level: New grads are expected to progress slower than experienced nurses.
  • Patient Population: The patient assignment I chose is the best I can, based on the patients in that unit that day. There will be times when the overall acuity of the unit is higher or lower than what we ideally need.
  • Dynamic Patients: The reality of nursing in an acute care setting is that patients are dynamic… meaning they can (and often do) change at any point. What started as a “simple, stable” patient, can become one whose condition is critical and unstable.

Master Observer

A good precepting nurse is a detective 🕵️. You need to notice everything:

  • How They Perform Tasks: Are they efficient and following best practices? Make sure you’re observing and not constantly correcting them. They cannot develop their critical thinking skills if they are not given space to think. As long as the patient is not going to be harmed, give them time to figure things out for themselves. If you’re concerned that they’re being very inefficient or not working through an issue, be curious and ask them to explain their thought process and correct as needed.
  • How They Think Through Patient Issues: Do they understand the disease process and potential complications? There’s no shame if they need a little brush-up on pathophysiology or other common patient issues. If it seems like they might not be sure, ask and fill in the blanks as needed.
  • How They Educate Patients: Are they clear, concise, and empathetic? Remember, it can be hard to explain things to patients at first while maintaining a caring demeanor. Your encouragement will mean the world!

Contentious Communicator

New nurses are like seedlings, vulnerable and easily overwhelmed by the constant influx of information. Their morale can be fragile under a constant stream of corrections. For this reason, purposeful communication is essential.

  • Think of it as clear and focused sunlight for these developing professionals. It helps them process information efficiently, reducing frustration during this sensitive learning period. Ditch the barrage of corrections!
  • Focus on constructive feedback delivered with empathy and respect. This fosters a growth mindset and helps rebuild morale.
  • Remember, active listening is key. Show them you hear their concerns and frustrations. Instead of dwelling on negativity, shift the conversation towards solutions and strategies for improvement.

By being purposeful and mindful in your communication, you create a supportive environment where even a contentious communicator can blossom into a confident and competent nurse. Treat them with respect, not as children, but as developing professionals who deserve clear guidance.

Learning From Their Mistakes

Let the preceptee experience (safely) the consequences of not being the most efficient or perfect. Share mistakes you’ve made so they can learn as much as possible. (I have a whole podcast episode here with fellow nurse Brittney Wilson, BSN, RN, sharing our own mistakes we made while being precepted.)

Fosters Independence

As a nurse preceptor, you have a lot on your plate. You need to teach, watch, and make sure your preceptee is practicing safely. You have to be there for them but not hover too much. It’s about finding the right balance between overseeing patient care and letting your preceptee grow independently.

For instance, at the start, you’ll be right there as your preceptee does a detailed neuro exam. But as they get the hang of it, you might step back and watch from a distance.

Another example: if a patient’s blood pressure is high, initially you’d jump in to discuss what to do and why. Towards the end of your preceptee’s orientation, you will hang back to see how they handle it. Did they address the issue promptly?

As we near the end of orientation, it might seem like you are just a spare nurse. But really, you are pushing your preceptee to take charge. You will give them challenging tasks and see how they handle them. Are they connecting the dots? Did we miss any learning opportunities?

It’s tough for you, as the preceptor, not to jump in, but it’s crucial for both of us to spot areas for improvement. By the end of orientation, you want your preceptee to feel confident in using their resources, asking for help when needed, and practicing safely. It’s not about knowing everything but being ready to spread their wings and fly on their own!

Empowerment is Key

Help the preceptees trust their judgment and manage their time.

Balances Tasks With Teaching

During orientation, there are a bunch of technical skills to learn, like starting IVs, drawing blood, changing central line dressings, inserting feeding tubes, among many others. It’s satisfying to check them off a list.

As a precepting nurse, you are here to help your preceptee see beyond just tasks:

  • Your preceptee needs to understand why we’re doing these things and how they fit into patient care.
  • You will also want to cover the theory behind diseases and the treatments and talk about the general anatomy/physiology of the disease processes for the unit.
    • For example, why are we drawing this blood? How are these lab results going to help us better care for this patient?

Balancing these aspects can be tough, especially when both the preceptor and preceptee are eager to finish on time. Who really wants extra work outside of working hours?

As a preceptor, you are watching for signs that your preceptee is getting it and where they might need more help.

The Preceptor: A Professional Question Asker

Being a precepting nurse isn’t about telling the new nurse what to do. It’s about guiding them to think critically and develop their problem-solving skills. Here’s how you can do that:

The Art of Asking

  • Think “Why” not “What.” Instead of grilling them with basic questions, ask open-ended ones that prompt deeper thinking.
  • “Have you considered…?” This phrase encourages the new nurse to explore different options and analyze the situation.
  • Curious, Not Shameful! Use a gentle, inquisitive tone that fosters a safe learning environment.
  • Affirm, Don’t Solve. Acknowledge their thought process before offering suggestions.

Advocates For Learning Experiences

A precepting nurse acts as a champion for a new nurse’s learning experience. Their role goes beyond simply observing assignments. Proactive preceptors anticipate common situations new nurses will encounter on the unit, like post-cardiac cath recovery on a cardiology floor.

By collaborating with the charge nurse, they ensure the new nurse is exposed to these situations throughout orientation. This requires initiative – if week five rolls around and the preceptee hasn’t had that experience, the preceptor shouldn’t hesitate to advocate for a switch in assignments to prioritize this crucial learning opportunity.

In essence, the preceptor champions the new nurse’s exposure to diverse situations, ensuring a well-rounded and comprehensive orientation experience.

A Sample Professional Progression Timeline

A precepting nurse might work with someone for a day or a few weeks. While the role can vary slightly, there are key skills and qualities that make a great nursing preceptor.

Nursing orientation can be divided into three chunks. All three require different levels of assistance that you’ll give your orientee. The duration of each phase depends on the entire length of their orientation as well as their personal progression. As a rule of thumb, phase one is the shortest and phase three is the longest.

Most healthcare organizations do not have a well-rounded preceptor development program. These phases are the best way I’ve discovered that an experienced nurse can create a fruitful preceptor experience. This guide is designed for preceptors of a new graduate nurse in the clinical setting. It may be useful for nursing school precepting but may not be 100% accurate due to the short duration.

Phase 1: Observation & Assessment

  • Focus: This is all about observation and getting oriented. Your orientee will shadow you, learning the unit’s flow, patient population, and routines. It is important to give them a consistent routine. When they were a student nurse, much of their routine was dictated to them. The shift out of this mode will take some time.
  • Tasks: They’ll complete basic tasks: drawing up medications, calculating dosages, administering IV/SubQ medications, starting IV’s, putting in feeding tubes, documenting appropriately, using foley insertions, putting people on telemetry, etc.
    • When they ask how to do certain things, show them how to look up policies and procedures. You’ll find yourself saying, “what does the policy say?” over and over again, but you need to get them into that habit.

Teaching Time Management

In the initial phase, demonstrate your effective time management skills and daily routine to newcomers. As they gain experience in later phases, they can decide what works best for them.

Expert nurses sometimes overlook the importance of explaining the “why” behind tasks since they’ve mastered them. However, it’s crucial for newbies’ professional growth and safety. Even seemingly trivial tasks require explanation.

New nurses are eager to apply the evidence-based practices they’ve learned. During phase one, you’ll often take on the role of a nurse educator. Keep in mind that each new nurse may have different needs and preferences.

The best preceptors are change champions who can adapt to change and help others do the same.

Things you Need to do in Phase One

  • Formally introduce them to everyone. CNA’s, MD’s, PA’s, NP’s, transporters, etc. They are now part of your team and what better way to welcome them and make them feel part of it all than by you taking the time to introduce them to everyone.
  • Explain your time management technique and why you do things in the order that you do them.
  • Explain your prioritization that is ever-changing throughout the day.
  • Demonstrate appropriate delegation as well as accountability when tasks are delegated.
  • Have them observe how you interact with patients/families, physicians, and support staff.
  • Get them familiar with the documentation.
  • Set standards for safe clinical practice and a focus on the patient outcome.
  • Have them take the report right along with you so they can choose the report sheet they want to use and get familiar with it.
  • Get them familiar with your IV pumps and tubing.
  • Find information specific to your patient population, print it off, and have them read about it at home. Quiz them on it the next day. Start building that foundational knowledge about the disease processes that affect your patients.
  • Show them how to look up policies and procedures.
  • Get them familiar with the house phone numbers and departments. Take them wherever you go in the hospital to show them around. Again, introduce them to people.

Phase 2: Training Wheels

  • Focus: Time for your orientee to take the reins (with you nearby)! They’ll care for one patient independently, managing tasks, documentation, and communication with the physicians, support staff, the patient, and loved ones. Also, they will provide education to patients and families. This is a critical step for a novice nurse in a hospital setting.
  • Direct to the Policy: Again, if they don’t know how to do something, always direct them to the policy first. With one patient, they should have time to go look up the policies for everything.
  • Knowledge Checks: Continue to give them homework. Print off information about your patient population and quiz them the next day.
  • Challenges: Encourage them to ask questions and develop their problem-solving skills. Don’t answer everything right away – let them think! We need to go from being task-oriented to being big-picture-oriented.
    • During this time, I start to ask all of my why questions. Depending on their progression and knowledge base, I try to challenge them with the questions. I also try to think of questions that patients may ask about their care plans.
    • If other members of the health care team (docs, MD’s/PA’s, CNA’s, etc.) ask them questions about the patient, don’t answer for them. I’m terrible at this. I have to try really, really hard not to answer for them.
    • You want to encourage them to ask questions, so don’t act like they’re stupid if they get one wrong or do something incorrectly. Handle those situations with grace. Please don’t use that opportunity to make someone feel bad about themselves. That’s those terrible nurses eating their young thing.

Questions to Inform their Plan of Care

  • Why do you think they’re on subcutaneous heparin?
  • Why are they on Colace and Pepcid?
  • Why do we need to do a bladder scan if they didn’t void 6 hours after you removed the foley?
  • Why do you think you needed to put your patient with CHF on oxygen after he got two units of blood?
  • Why do you think we need a central line when initiating vasoactive medications?
  • Why is it imperative that you lay them completely flat when removing their PICC line?
  • Why are we still giving them IV pain medication when we have oral pain medication ordered?

    Mutual Respect is Critical

    It’s really important that during all phases of orientation, you are treating everyone around you with the utmost respect. If you are talking badly about other people in front of your orientee, they see and hear that. If you’re not being respectful of the CNAs, you’re telling them it’s okay to do that. If you are nice to someone’s face and once they leave you to talk about them, you’re not being a good role model to your orientee.

    They are watching how you do everything, including how you interact with others. If you want them to be a good nurse and supportive coworker, it is imperative that you model that yourself.

    Phase 3: Flying Solo

    • Focus: Now it’s time to step back and let your orientee shine! They will already have managed 1-2 patients independently, demonstrating their newfound skills and confidence.
    • Empowerment: Encourage them to prioritize tasks, delegate appropriately, and anticipate potential issues.
    • Key Tip: Provide feedback and guidance, but let them take ownership of their patient care. This builds trust and independence.


    • Respect is Key: Treat everyone with respect, as your orientee is learning by example.
    • Let Them Drown a Little (Safely): As they manage their time, let them experience minor challenges. This helps them refine their skills and resourcefulness.
    • The Goal: Empower your orientee to take responsibility for their patients as soon as possible. This prepares them for the realities of working solo.

    It’s important to say that not everyone may adhere to the necessary procedures during the orientation phase. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post on managing individuals who aren’t progressing appropriately during orientation!

    By following these steps and fostering a supportive learning environment, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a preceptor that new nurses rave about!

    Throw Them in the Deep End, But Bring a Life Jacket

    While they’re figuring out their own time management, I let them drown a little. When I talk to them at 1100 and 1500, I talk about things I observed that could have been done more efficiently to save them some time. I also look at the following:

    • The tendency to do things that they know how to do first, not necessarily the things that are the priority. For example, if they need to hang a unit of blood or go give scheduled PO meds early… they’ll probably head to give the meds first. Redirect them as needed.
    • Empower them to take responsibility for their patient load as soon as possible. The scariest part of being out of orientation is knowing that you are ultimately responsible for your patient’s well-being without anyone checking behind you. The earlier you can empower them to take responsibility for them, the better.
    • When giving and getting the report, make sure the off-going nurse is giving report to your orientee and not you.
    • Make sure they’re paging the physicians and rounding with them. Whenever any asks any questions about the patient, refer them to your oriented and say that they are the orientee’s patient, not yours.

    At this point, you’re in the background to help PRN and to double-check behind charting and task completion.

    Dealing With Different Personalities

    Acclimating a new nurse to the unit, a process called socialization, is crucial for their success and overall well-being. This involves not only teaching them the technical aspects of the job but also helping them adapt to the unit’s culture, workflow, and existing team dynamics.

    Since new employees come with unique personalities and communication styles, successful socialization requires flexibility and patience.

    By fostering a supportive environment that embraces these differences, the unit empowers new nurses to integrate seamlessly and thrive in their new roles.

    Precepting Nurse: Differing Personalities

    We’re not perfect. Sometimes preceptors can be too hands-on, while others can be disengaged. Here’s what that looks like to the preceptee.

    Too overbearing

    • Doing things for them because it’s faster
    • Telling them when to contact the physician rather than allowing them to decide that for themselves
    • Working together as a team to care for your patient load instead of teaching them and backing off to allow them to function independently
    • Key 🔑 point: If you are overbearing, your preceptee will not become independent.

    Too disengaged

    • Constantly hanging out at the nurse’s station
    • Being unaware of patients’ conditions
    • Key 🔑 point: If you are disengaged, your preceptee will be even more anxious and nervous because they will not know when they are making a mistake.

    Different Personalities of Preceptees

    Just like preceptors, preceptees have unique personalities and tendencies. Let’s go through some common ones.


    This is the nurse who feels like they must get everything right the first time or they are a failure. This is unreasonable, as even high-performers make mistakes and need to practice skills repeatedly before demonstrating competency.

    It would be wise to help them have more realistic expectations for their professional development. The goal should not be perfect every shift; the goal each shift should be improvement. Otherwise, they will feel like they are failing (even though they are probably doing quite well).

    Occasionally, perfectionists can get frustrated or angry if things do not go well or if they feel they were not set up to succeed at every turn, which doesn’t feel so great as the preceptor. Assertiveness is a key communication skill that demonstrates respect for them and yourself. Keep your feedback objective and encouraging.

    Checked-out nurse

    This person passively follows you around everywhere, waits to be told what to do, and is not interested or excited about anything. With these employees, it’s important to remember: it’s not your job to get them to care about their job.

    Your responsibility is to teach them so they can perform their duties safely. As frustrating as it might be, sometimes disengaged nurses still provide adequate care. It’s not 10/10 the best care in the world, but it will do.

    Focus on ensuring they have the basic practical knowledge, be honest with performance reviews, and don’t try to make them be something they’re not. Save that energy for the preceptees who are really appreciate your time and expertise.

    If you want to learn about more different personalities, check out my course!

    Did you just get asked (or voluntold) to be a preceptor on your nursing unit?

    Preceptor Pro

    Preceptor Pro from FreshRN® is your one-stop ultimate resource and online course, crafted specifically for preceptors. What if there was a one-stop ultimate resource to provide the structure needed so that you knew how to approach precepting, take out the guesswork, and look awesome doing it? Now there is…

    Nurse Preceptor FAQ

    Do Nurse Preceptors Get Paid Extra?

    Preceptor pay practices vary greatly depending on the healthcare organization. Here’s a breakdown of some common scenarios:

    Hourly Pay Increase: Some hospitals offer a slight hourly pay increase for precepting shifts (1-2$ approximately).

    Stipend or Bonus: Others provide a one-time stipend or bonus upon successful completion of the preceptorship program.

    No Additional Compensation: Unfortunately, many organizations don’t offer financial compensation for preceptorship.

    How to Add Nurse Precepting to My Resume

    Crafting a precepting nurse resume involves highlighting not only clinical expertise but also teaching skills, showcasing experiences that demonstrate the ability to guide and support less experienced nurses in their professional development.
    Here are some tips to make your nurse preceptor experience shine:

    Keywords: Sprinkle relevant keywords throughout your resume, including “nurse preceptor,” “preceptorship program,” “new graduate nurse orientation,” and any specific skills you honed during precepting (e.g. clinical instruction).

    Dedicated Section: Consider creating a separate section on your resume specifically for “Precepting Experience.” This allows you to clearly highlight your accomplishments without burying them within your general work history.

    Quantify Your Impact: Whenever possible, quantify the impact you’ve had as a preceptor. Did you guide a specific number of new nurses? Did you contribute to the development of a new preceptorship program? Numbers add weight to your experience.

    How Do I Precept AND Have a Patient Assignment?

    I’ve often found myself torn in different directions, balancing roles as both a preceptor and a lead nurse. While I aim to fully support you, there are times when I’m the only one capable of handling lead nurse duties.

    These are just a few examples of the many times I have experienced conflicting responsibilities:

    I’m a resource for less experienced nurses.
    I also manage the admissions and discharges
    I have to assist physicians with unit-wide issues.

    There are emergencies with patients where, as a new orientee, they may call you to help, but early on, observation might be necessary for safety reasons. Patient safety takes precedence, even if it means limited participation during crises.
    Precepting during short-staffed shifts, where I feel torn between supporting you and assisting my colleagues. Sometimes, I may need to take on additional patient assignments, even though I try to select less complex cases. However, patient conditions can change suddenly, requiring me to prioritize direct care over teaching.

    Although I’ve discussed above the challenges I face as a precepting nurse, the last thing I want you to think is that precepting is terrible. I assure you it is not. The personal satisfaction that I get when I see a new nurse thriving far outweighs every negative.

    I do try to recognize when I am having a bad day and do my best to shelter my orientee. The bottom line is that I choose to precept because I enjoy teaching. I hope to help new nurses find the same joy and fulfillment in the nursing profession that I have found.

    If you really appreciated your clinical instructor or a nurse you were paired with, and want to say thanks check out my post about Nurse Preceptor Gifts That Won’t Disappoint.

    Resources For New Nurse Preceptors

    In this episode, I interviewed Beth Hawks, MSN RN-BC, a highly experienced and amazing nursing professional development specialist and preceptor, on tips for new nurse preceptors. Expect to learn from this podcast episode the following:

    • How to give feedback in a constructive manner
    • Tips for nurses going into the precepting role who are not yet confident in their own skills
    • How to support nurses through reality shock
    • Coping with preceptees who take correction personally
    • How to handle preceptees who questions absolutely everything
    Picture of Kati Kleber, founder of FRESHRN

    Hi, I’m Kati.

    Kati Kleber, MSN RN is a nurse educator, author, national speaker, host of the FreshRN® Podcast, and owner of FreshRN® – an online platform created to educate, encourage, and motivate newly licensed nurses in innovative ways.

    Connect with her on YouTube, Pinterest, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook, and sign-up for her free email newsletter for new nurses.


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