Wow… preceptorship… I learned SO MUCH! I absolutely loved my preceptor, the floor I was on, the staff, the computer charting system… just everything about it!
I must be honest, I was very nervous for my first shift, but I felt ready to get it started. I was initially assigned to a nurse, a new grad himself, not yet a nurse for a full two years which led me being assigned to a new nurse who was young, and oh so smart! Not saying that the first preceptor wasn’t. Both were very knowledgable… it was my school’s policy to be paired with a nurse who had more experience.
You can click here to read what happened in the beginning of my preceptorship. Come back and continue reading after you have read that post.
So as you can see… I was stressed out. I was overwhelmed about the thought about being a new nurse and on my own. I felt so unprepared. In a nursing program, you are taught everything by the book. Preceptorship is a wake up call as to how nursing really is in the real world. I realize nursing programs try to teach in way that it will be as close to the real world as possible, but unless you are one-on-one with a nurse and taking on all the patients, and doing absolutely EVERYTHING in EVERY clinical from start to finish, it is not a clear representation.
I do however believe I have learned a lot in my program. Unfortunately, there is not a nursing program that can get in so much depth about each specialty. Luckily, there are nurse residency programs/transition into practice programs/new grad programs available to train you and prepare you for your specific unit you get hired onto, and to train you on the hospitals policies and procedures, as well as their charting system, and much much more.
I am so fortunate to have had a preceptorship that was so useful to me, and really opened up my eyes to a cardiac step down unit. I had a 4:1 patient ratio, and that was plenty! Although, most days were very relaxed, I wish I had a really crazy day that required me to be on my feet the whole shift… just so that I could have the experience before going into a new grad program and don’t make a fool of myself… LOL!
My preceptor was the sweetest, most patient, and caring preceptor ever. I honestly wish every preceptee has a preceptor like her because I learned a TON. She tells it how it is, but makes sure I am not under too much stress. She understood when I wanted more autonomy and independence. She made my preceptorship a great one.
Tips for Preceptorship:
- Find a brain sheet that works for you. My preceptor used a blank sheet and folded it in 3’s, and used each row for a different patient. I personally like this brain sheet: BrainSheet
- Be comfortable. If you have the option to wear your own scrubs for preceptorship, DO IT. I unfortunately was still told to wear a white shirt (not our usual uniform one, with our patch put on it) and the “hospital” blue pants. Does that make sense? HA!
- Always have your stethoscope, favorite pen(s), pen light, sharpie, tape, alcohol swabs, 2×2 gauze, and flushes with you. I usually start my shift off with 5 flushes in my pocket so that I can assess IV patency if the patient is saline locked, and a handful of alcohol swabs because… that is just a given… need it for cleaning ports, taking off tape, prepping for a finger stick, the list goes on.
- Wear good shoes (and compression socks). I put compression socks in parenthesis because I should’ve used them throughout my preceptorship, but I didn’t. I have worn them before because they really do help with circulation, and help with less swelling by the end of the shift. My shoes were also so comfy. Click here for the shoes I wore for clinical/preceptorship.
- Always have a watch. I personally love my Apple watch, but it is absolutely not needed, it is a “want”, not a “need”. I am going to try and do something with the “Notes” app in which you can put medication safe dose ranges on it and it connects to your Apple watch. I got the idea from Nurse Nacole (Nacole Riccaboni). Follow her on Instagram, she’s awesome! @nursenacole).
- Always keep hair ties if your have long hair.
- Hydrate and eat! Don’t go hungry and always give yourself a break (wise words from my preceptor). Whether you think you need a break or not, TAKE IT WHEN YOU CAN! Your brain will thank you!
- Don’t get alarm fatigue!
- Learn how to prioritize and have time management. Time management is always an area to grow in (also wise words from my preceptor).
- Know your patient’s disease process (inside and out) and critically think about their whole situation, medications, procedures, tests, labs, etc.
- Address the family too! They need the support as well. Do this by letting them know what you are doing, what medications are being given to the patient, what procedure(s) you are performing, informing the family of what the patients plan is, answering questions to the best of your ability, offering spiritual care, case management, social worker… you get it. It keeps the family at ease when they are “in-the-know” too. Just be aware of HIPAA!
- Treat your patients as if they were your own family and be their advocate.
- Always ask questions, and never do something without being sure. Be safe, not sorry!
- Trust your gut. Just do it… trust me.
- NEVER STOP LEARNING! ALWAYS STAY UP-TO-DATE WITH YOUR EDUCATION!
I am sure I can add a lot more to this list of tips, but you would be here forever.
Overall, after this preceptorship, I really felt ready to get into the real world of nursing and enter a new grad program to work on cardiac step down unit (I love the heart!), my preceptor really helped me believe in myself. You may not feel like you know what you are doing, but you wouldn’t have gotten this far if you didn’t! Right? Once you start doubting yourself is when you start making mistakes.
If you are going into your preceptorship soon, just know that all of your emotions are real and totally normal. You may be scared, you may be intimidated, but you will make it! I believe in you! ❤
I hope you have a fantastic day and please e-mail me if you have any questions! I am happy to help because I care!
(FYI 6 days left until my graduation/pinning ceremony! But who’s counting…;) )