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How to Approach Being a Preceptor to New Graduate Nurses

Nicole Kraut

RN

There was nothing more exciting to me than learning a new graduate nurse had been hired, and I would be assigned as their preceptor. However, the first time I was told I would precept someone, I was nervous. I had only been working as a nurse for a year, and I often times asked for guidance or a second opinion. I was not sure that I could be a resource to this new nurse. My manager felt confident that I would be an effective preceptor. Working with that first new hire taught me a lot about how to be an effective preceptor. That experience also ignited my passion for precepting and inspired me to continuously work on improving my skills as a preceptor.

Helping a New Nurse Care for Patients

There is a common saying in nursing, “nurses eat their young.” This, unfortunately, has some truth to it. Nurses care for and love their patients as if they their own family members. We work hard to make sure everything is done safely, correctly, and efficiently. That drive to care for our patients takes precedence, and sometimes nurses have a hard time letting someone else take the lead, especially if that person is new and unexperienced.

Remember What It Felt Like to Be a New Nurse

I would say that the first rule of precepting a new graduate nurse is to take yourself to your first day of working as a nurse. However short or long ago that was, never forget the emotions you felt. Anxiety, excitement, uncertainty, happiness, and fear are all common emotions running through a new nurse during their first year of nursing. Recognizing and understanding those emotions, as well as encouraging and supporting that new nurse during their transition into nursing are what will ensure that nurse has a successful start to their nursing career.

A successful preceptor not only orients the new nurse to the policies and procedures of the institution, but also serves as a mentor, a resource, and a friend.

About the Author

Nicole Kraut currently works as a RN on a medical-oncology unit in Chicago, Illinois. She serves as the night shift Team Leader for the unit, in which she serves as the charge nurse and participates in leadership activities. She has been a RN for over five years. Nicole shares, “I have had the opportunity to be a new hire preceptor and have worked with fourteen new hire staff RNs. Along with being a preceptor, I have been a facilitator for our New Graduate Mentor Program, which allows new graduate nurses a place to meet once a month to learn from each other and to share their experiences.”

Nicole graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Loyola University Chicago and recently obtained a Master of Science in Nursing with an Emphasis in Nursing Education from Grand Canyon University. She “was inspired to become a nurse because I wanted to work in a career field in which I could make a difference in people’s lives on a daily basis. I feel nursing is my vocation and am passionate about sharing my knowledge and experience in order to positively influence others.”

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