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Precepting a New Grad Nurse

*Original post released on 11/28/2022

Being able to precept a new grad nurse is one of the most rewarding opportunities a seasoned nurse can receive! In this article, I want to help you excel as a preceptor by providing you with some tidbits of advice. First of all, be warm, inviting, upbeat, and encouraging. This seems like such a simple thing to say, however, the longer you’ve working as a nurse, the easier it is to become hardened by the healthcare industry. If this is your situation, your new grad nurse doesn’t need to feel the full force of your outlook right off the bat. Be open to that warm, inviting, upbeat, and encouraging mindset… who knows, maybe it can help reframe that outlook you have.

Another one of the initial things you should do with your new grad nurse is to make them aware of the location of basic items and resources on the unit, such as: clean and soiled linen, supplies, medication rooms, nourishment rooms, equipment storage, crash carts, etc. You’ll also want to show them around the hospital so they are aware of the location to crucial place like lab, pharmacy, CT/MRI, the ED, OR, and other common units. On a similar note, you’ll want to make sure that your new grad has either badge or key in access to the areas they’ll be required to access for the care of your/their patients. Help enhance their ability to communicate by providing them with physician phone numbers and frequently used department extensions. Along with this should include the teaching of how and when to call a code within your facility. Review with them the specific terminology for certain codes. For example, a “code pink” may be what is paged overhead when a child is reported missing.

Guide your new grad through the process of receiving and giving report. Allow them to practice and attempt giving and receiving change of shift, change of assignment, or transfer report. If able, provide them with a template such as this one to help ensure they cover all the necessary points about the patient’s stay in the hospital and their health. Walk them through your typical shift routine so they can see how you function. Doing this will also allow them to work on developing their own routine. Be flexible and allow them to work on a routine of their own; they need to use the process of trial and error to determine what works best for them during a shift. So, as long as all tasks are being completed, allow them to approach it in their own manner. However, this doesn’t mean you don’t reserve the right to provide them with constructive criticism, advice, and tips for streamlining their workflow.

Take them through tasks and charting instead of just doing it for them and expecting them to observe and learn. Allow them to practice and attempt different skills and tasks. If you don’t feel comfortable with doing that so early on in the preceptorship, have them observe a skill once or twice, then walk them through it step by step, before allowing them to attempt it on their own. While the new grad nurse is practicing under a general nurse (GN) permit, they will be practicing under the supervision of your license as well. Their actions, whether good or faulty, will reflect upon you ultimately as well. Protect your license and supervise everything being done on your patients.

There has to be enough balance to safely protect your license but allow the new grad nurse to grow and develop into a competent specialized nurse on your unit. One way you can help cultivate this balance is by asking questions in a productive manner to guide them without giving away all of the steps or information. If a question you’ve asked is answered or an action performed incorrectly, redirect them in a constructive way to encourage learning while discouraging the incorrect information or action. Of course, you’ll always want to interject immediately and abruptly for any unsafe situations or actions.

As a preceptor, one of your jobs is to encourage active learning and safe practices. Show them where and how to locate accurate current practice, medication, and health related information. For example, be sure to utilize apps like Up-to-Date and Clinical Pharmacology if your facility grants you access to these. Avoid teaching any shortcuts that can potentially jeopardize a patient’s health. Teach them the knowledge behind their actions or the course of treatment so they can learn to anticipate their patients’ needs.

I hope you’ve taken the time to read this tips for precepting a new grad so that you’re able to be a successful, safe, and encouraging nursing mentor! Until next time, happy studying!

Andra Alyse

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