All of the groundwork has been done! New colleague orientation is planned and preceptors are selected. What does the trainer have to do now?
The next step in this process is making sure the preceptors are ready to function in the role. Items that the trainer will review with the preceptor include:
• Identifying learning needs of the new employee
• Setting goals with the new employee in collaboration with the unit director and trainer
• Acting as a role model
• Providing client care in accordance with established, evidence-based nursing practice standards
• Fulfilling nursing duties according to hospital and unit policies and procedures
• Maintaining mature and effective working relationships with other health care team members
• Using resources safely, effectively and appropriately
• Demonstrating leadership skills in problem solving, decision making, priority setting, delegation of responsibility and in being accountable
• Recognizing that nursing role elements may be new to the employee
• Facilitating the new staff member’s professional socialization into the new role and with the other nursing staff
• Providing the staff member with feedback on progress, based on preceptor’s observation of clinical performance, assessment of achievement of clinical competencies and client care documentation
• Planning experiences and assignments to help the new employee meet weekly goals
• Consulting with the trainer as necessary
• Participating in educational activities to promote continued learning and professional growth
• Participating in ongoing evaluation of the program
Once classroom orientation concludes, the trainer introduces the new staff member to the preceptor so the first phase of the Preceptorship relationship – The Introduction – can begin. This phase can be facilitated by asking the preceptors to attend the last day of classroom orientation. Elements of this phase include:
• Establishing trust between the new colleague and preceptor
• Plan ongoing meetings and reviews of care provided
• Clarifying the roles of both the new colleague and preceptor
Depending upon the years of experience as a registered nurse and the skill level, the new employee may either welcome or resent having a preceptor. Unfortunately I had an experience where a new employee resented having a preceptor. This new staff member had two years of clinical nursing experience in a community hospital and was taking a position on a surgical floor in a major teaching organization. The nurse-client ratio would be higher and the new colleague was inexperienced with post-operative care. The new colleague refused to talk with the preceptor and wanted “a word with me” to discuss the arrangement. I gently reminded the new colleague that the Preceptorship program was reviewed during the interview and that every employee participated regardless of skill level and experience. The new colleague reluctantly agreed to meet with the preceptor but after a few days the relationship improved.
Not all new colleague–preceptor relationships are positive. Next week’s blog will address when the new colleague-preceptor relationship is filled with conflict. See you then!