The quality of your nurse preceptor program impacts the quality of nursing. It plays a critical role at the intersection of higher education and on-the-job learning. While mentorship is essential in any business, nurse preceptors are critical to transitioning new clinical staff safely on to the front lines of your facility. This makes establishing best practices for nurse preceptors vital to every organization, no matter the size. This article will help you determine the quality of your nurse preceptor program by providing you with critical best practices to consider.
The Role of the Nurse Preceptor
The nurse preceptor handles several elements critical to establishing the street credibility of your new nursing teams, including serving as:
- Coach and teacher
- Influencer and leader
- Role model
Just like any other clinical professional, there is a gap between what students learn in the classroom setting and their work on the floor with patients. Nurse preceptors play an important role to both protect newly licensed nurses by supplementing their skills at a critical time in their career while also acclimate them to the rigors of a full caseload in a non-academic setting.
Your preceptor program is only as good as the nurse preceptor, so evaluating the program should start with reviewing the skills of this team. Do they have:
- An expert level of critical care skills
- Enthusiasm for teaching fledgling nurses
- Caring and compassion
- Excellent communication
The best nurse preceptors have a variety of responsibilities, including:
- Assessing the needs of new nurses and helping them set career goals.
- Facilitating social interactions with other staff.
- Modeling effective patient and staff communication and conflict management skills.
- Offering constructive feedback.
- Sharing evidence-based professional nursing practices.
- Teaching and demonstrating time management.
While the responsibilities of the preceptor nurse are subject to change, facilities need to create a positive environment for these critical components of your organization. The quality of your nurse preceptor has a direct and obvious correlation to clinical outcomes, patient satisfaction, and even nurse retention; there is another part of the program that must always be evaluated for it to be successful.
How can your organization protect the nurse preceptor role as one that is beneficial for the nurses serving as preceptors?
Building a Better Nurse Preceptor Program for Your Seasoned Nurse Teams
Healthcare organizations must strive to create a positive culture for nursing teams to encourage them to get involved in the preceptor program. This is extra work for nursing teams that may feel stretched thin on the floor. It’s essential to create an assessment and rewards process for your nurse preceptor program to make it attractive to the best members of your team. For example:
- Make addressing the nursing caseloads of preceptors a critical component of your administrative workflows for the program.
- Compensate your preceptors for their efforts.
- Establish an evaluation process for these professionals.
Nurse preceptors play a critical role in your organization, but applying best practice principles will equip both your preceptors and their new nurses with the skills they need to succeed.
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