June 2012, Volume 42 Number 6 , p 18 - 19
CLINICAL ROTATIONS for nursing students provide learning experiences that both challenge us and teach essential skills we'll use when taking care of future patients. To gain the most during this time, nursing students must follow an experienced nurse who's supportive and open to teaching. Yet no system is currently in place to ensure that a student will be partnered with a nurse who wants to teach. Because of this, many students feel uncomfortable and incompetent after a day in clinical.In this article, I propose a simple strategy to ensure that students and RNs are paired appropriately. My proposal is based on the negative experiences I, and fellow nursing students, encountered by being paired with preceptors who were closed off to teaching. Through interdisciplinary research on the successes of preceptorship in the healthcare industry and the great impact it can have on education, I developed this intervention in hopes of providing a better clinical environment that fosters optimal learning.Research has indicated that "the development of a positive working relationship between a nurse preceptor and student involves developing a mutual rapport."1 For this to happen, a student must be paired with a nurse who's willing to take the time to demonstrate and explain procedures in a mutually respectful relationship.Another research study indicated that with more preceptor interaction, students perceive a higher degree of competence in their nursing skills. Ninety-six percent of the students in this study rated relationships with their preceptors as important to very important.2Working with a nurse who isn't open to teaching undermines a student's confidence. One student I interviewed said, "I was in clinical following a nurse who didn't speak one word to me. I tried being proactive by asking what I could do to help. But she cut me off, saying that I needed to stay out of her way so she could work."Nurses have responsibilities to patients, so finding time to teach can be hard.