The new colleague has been working with the preceptor for several weeks or months by now and it is time for the new nurse to begin providing client care independently, ending the formal relationship. The trainer has a few extra steps to complete before this relationship officially ends:
• Meet with the Unit Director to plan when the new nurse will begin working an independent schedule
• Meet with the Preceptor for a final evaluation of the new nurse’s abilities, skills, and areas for improvement
• Meet with the new colleague for a self-evaluation and evaluation of the Preceptor’s guidance and support
The Unit Director will most likely be pleased that this relationship is ending because the new nurse can now be counted as active client-care providing staff member. The Preceptor will most likely be pleased to return to providing client care without having to stop and teach or supervise ongoingly throughout every work day.
The new colleague however may have different feelings which can include:
• I’m not ready!
• I need more time!
• I don’t know what I’m doing!
These feelings are indicators that the new nurse is aware of areas that need improvement and does not feel prepared to handle care issues independently. I had faced this situation when serving as a staff development trainer. One new colleague worked consistently well with the Preceptor but began acting out when informed that the preceptor relationship would be coming to a close. The Preceptor became concerned and the Unit Director reached out to me to intervene and problem-solve the situation.
I met with the new colleague to investigate the change in behavior only to learn that the new colleague was “afraid” of working independently. After several additional meetings with the new colleague, Preceptor, and Director, a schedule was created where the new nurse would be weaned from the Preceptor over a period of weeks. The weaning schedule was put into place and after an addition period of time, the new colleague was functioning independently and was performing well.
The Preceptor program is a valuable mechanism to support the ongoing orientation needs of new colleagues even though a significant amount of time is invested during the planning stages. The role of the trainer is pivotal in the success of the program.
Next week’s blog will begin discussing current issues around the perceived nursing shortage. See you then!