What Is A Preceptor? 
 
Preceptor.  A simple nine letter, three syllable word.  It is a role that is deceptive in that it appears easy to those who have never had the responsibility and privilege of fulfilling its duties.  But as with most things that require talent, those that do it so well and gracefully make it appear effortless and uncomplicated. 
So what is a preceptor?  Preceptors are those experienced nurses that have agreed to orient a new nurse and educate them to the responsibilities and skills that they will need throughout their careers.  Preceptors must not only be excellent clinical practitioners but also possess knowledge of teaching and learning styles, leadership and social skills, patience, kindness and be great communicators. But if the preceptor does not have the desire to fulfill this role and to give of themselves it will affect the quality and experience of the orientation and the orientee will have been cheated. 
You can be a wonderful, competent and professional nurse who may even be considered the “best” in your setting and a …horrible preceptor.  The truth is that not everyone is cut out to become a preceptor.  It requires a set of social skills that not everyone possesses or is willing to develop.  A preceptor must teach, correct and critique while continuing to inspire.  Encourage, prompt and push while remaining patient.  They take these actions and so many more all while remaining an advocate for their patients as well as their orientee. 
Many of us have had the privilege to precept.  But there are those who are continually sought out to fulfill this role because of the way they embrace it.  Those who excel at precepting are doing so much more than teach tasks, time management and documentation.  They may not know it but they are helping new nurses grow in confidence and assisting them in a journey of self discovery.
Nurse and Respiratory Therapist Preceptor Appreciation Day is Wednesday.  Please stop by the Hi Ways Room from 1:00 PM to 8:00 PM to join us for snacks and review poster presentations.  Nursing and Respiratory Therapist Preceptors from 2010 have been entered into a drawing for gift baskets. Those preceptors who have spent 10% of their work hours or 150 hours or more hours will receive a Certificate of Appreciation and a lapel pin.
Please take a moment to thank those staff members who share their insight, knowledge and time in the training and development of new personnel.
Share a story or any comments you may have regarding preceptors.