A nurse preceptor functions as a resource person, clinical role model, educator, and consultant to the to newly hired nurse. It takes a special person to be a good preceptor. Competent nurse preceptors are vital to the success of any health care organizations and to the retention of nurses in the nursing profession.
Preceptors guide new nurses as they transition from academic institutions to the professional world and, in some cases, from one nursing specialty to another. Every new nurse deserves a dedicated and competent preceptor to support their orientation experience. Effective nurse preceptors are supportive, good listeners, patient, enthusiastic, helpful, empathic, caring, humorous, respectful of students, and willing to work with beginners. They have to be available during the same schedule as the student. In most situations the student will need to match the preceptor schedule rather than the other way around.
Nurse Preceptors mentor new nurses and help them visualize the range of roles they will perform in a variety of clinical settings. They bridge the gap between theory and actual practice. Nurse preceptors should not be expected to provide care to any patients during the beginning phase of the orientation, but may eventually take patient care assignments as the new nurse becomes more capable and confident.
The nurse preceptor must have a clear, current, active license and two years of full-time employment. The educational level and clinical expertise of the preceptor should be greater than the student.
The preceptor’s relationship with the new nurse is key to the successful functioning and socialization of the nurse on the unit. Nurse preceptors encourage newly hired nurses to function at their highest level of competence