Preceptor FAQ

What are some tips for being a good preceptor?

Remember what it was like when you were a student and the anxiety you felt. Help the student feel part of the patient care team by introducing them, orienting them and involving them. Listen carefully to what the student says and be aware of his/her nonverbal communication. Communicate openly and honestly and give feedback frequently. Encourage questions and set a time when you and the student can sit down and talk about progress.

How do I set goals with my preceptee?

After assessing your preceptee’s prior experience, discover what the preceptee wants to learn from the daily experience. Based on the preceptee’s experiences and abilities, goals should be clear and attainable. You can assist your preceptee to recognize realistic goals because of your clinical knowledge. Goals may also be in the form of a problem solving exercise. The goal would be to solve the problem, but how it is accomplished is a learning experience for the student.

What are some teaching strategies I can use?

There are several teaching strategies you can incorporate into your practice. Demonstration is useful at the beginning of the preceptorship as the student acquires technical skills. Use the Socratic method of questioning where the questions become more complex as you explore the clinical situation. Listening can be a teaching strategy as it helps you to understand what the student is experiencing. By listening carefully to the student you may be able to assist the student to discover learning goals and plan accordingly. Role modeling is essential to exemplify to the student how a professional nurse plans care and interacts with members of the health care team. 

How do I handle an anxious student or one that needs motivation?

It is important to address this as soon as possible and in a direct, but kind way. Talk about the behavior you have seen and how you interpret it. Listen to what the student says, or doesn’t say and allow time for the student to reflect on your observations. Next work with the student to develop a definite plan with specific goals. Remember that the faculty member of the course is a resource and should be aware of your concerns.