We’ve all been nursing students – some more recently than others – but it shouldn’t be too hard to recall those first clinical experiences and the impact of our clinical preceptors. If you find yourself precepting a student this semester, remember this advice to make it the best experience for the student, and for yourself.
- Keep in mind that you were in the student’s shoes once.
- Introduce yourself and introduce the student to other colleagues on the unit. Make the student feel welcome, included, and part of the team.
- Treat the student the way you wish you were treated as a student.
- Be honest and communicate openly with the instructor in order to create an optimal experience for the student. Be sure to advise the instructor if having a student for that shift isn’t ideal.
- Establish responsibilities and pertinent details at the start of the shift, such as:
- The student’s hours for the day
- Documentation responsibilities
- In which stage is the student in terms of training (first semester, about to graduate?)
- What is the student allowed to do? What will the student be doing (a.m. care, emptying drains, giving meds [does this include PO, IM, SQ, IVPB], dressing changes)?
- Communicate! Give the student report and share how you usually prioritize your shift. Do you see all your patients first, then meds, and then a.m. care? Or do you see one patient at time and get them going for the day?
- Listen to the student’s concerns. For example, ask if the student is comfortable performing a task independently before assigning it. Pay attention to nonverbal cues as well.
- See if anything interesting is going on with your patients or if there are other experiences happening that would serve as a good learning opportunity such as bedside PICC insertion, bedside ECHO, etc. Is anyone going to the cath lab, radiology, IR, OR, HD?
- Share a story or memory from your days as a student or new nurse. Make sure to add that the path to a nursing career is a journey that many others have embarked on to become successful nurses and that the student is not alone.
Let’s help the next generation become the nurses we want taking care of our loved ones. What other advice do you have for clinical preceptors?