My nursing students recently compiled a list of what describes their Best Nurse Preceptor (BNP), so I had to share. Did every preceptor possess every quality? No, but it’s worth asking: Which qualities would be used to describe you as a preceptor?
- Willingly answers questions. When a student starts a sentence with, “This is a really dumb question” they are met with reassurance that it is safer to ask a question than remain quiet. Belittling, patronizing, and demeaning language doesn’t help anyone. The BNP knows it.
- Asks questions for the right reasons. The BNP asks the student questions to assess knowledge and prepare them for this reality but they see an incorrect answer as an opportunity to teach and guide, not humiliate.
- Remembers what it was like to be a student. Everyone was there, but some try to capitalize on their self-imposed position of power by pretending that they never had to learn and ask questions. Real power is being able to admit that they remember what it was like to be a student.
- Asks students what they want to accomplish during their clinical day. The BNP knows that good students have an idea of what they want to do that day (start an IV, place a catheter, etc.)
- Supervises but takes a step back. Some nurses won’t let their students touch or do anything. Other nurses hand everything over to their student, assuming they can do it all. The BNP finds the middle ground, adjusts it based on the student, and accepts responsibility for their patient, but at the same time, recognizes that for most things in nursing, learning requires doing.
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