I’ve had the privilege of being one of the main preceptors on my floor for the past couple years. It’s been awesome – I love working with new nurses. It feels nice having the occasional night where I look around at huddle and realize I helped train a majority of the nurses. Some new nurses are pretty good to begin with – by the end third week, I’m mostly helping out on the rest of the floor, and the new grad is taking the full group. Others take more time, and we’re both staying busy until the end of their five week standard orientation.
I’ve only had to extend an orientation once – where I emailed the director and said I felt the nurse was not ready to be on their own, and should probably work on a lower acuity floor. We ended up extending this nurse’s orientation by two weeks, and I still felt nervous any time I saw the nurse was on the schedule.
Precepting has been one thing that has kept me on the same floor as long as I’ve been there (a whopping three-ish years – and I’m one of the more senior nurses now). Few things are more rewarding than taking a fresh out of school nurse and helping them become a kick-ass RN.
The big thing I hope they learn from me is to take care of your patient first, and always. If a patient needs pain meds, it doesn’t matter that it’s 2 AM. Call and wake the doc up. You feel like your patient is getting worse, but the doc doesn’t want to come in. Ok, call the charge, the house supervisor, rapid response, the attending – whoever you need to call to get your patient taken care of.
I do feel week 3 is the most nerve-wracking week as a preceptor. They know the basics, now it’s time to let them build some confidence and independence. So I stop following them around. They know what they’re doing… I hope! Still do some spot checks – Zosyn needs to be hung on primary tubing, and we talked about that – but I still swing by after they hang it, just to double check. If you let them make a mistake, they remember it much better.
Now I’m off to bed, a busy day awaits!