A nurse who knits…

April 29, 2007

Precepting a new nurse

Filed under: Nursing — yarnnut @ 2:29 am

My manager asked me to consider precepting new nurses a few weeks ago.  I was a little bit shocked considering I’d only been a nurse for 7 months myself.  I told her that I wasn’t sure that I had enough experience to be a good preceptor.  Her response was “You underestimate myself”.  I told her I still didn’t think I was ready to start training someone right now.  She replied, “Maybe we can revisit this topic at the end of the summer”.  Ugh.  Long story short, she convinced me to take the precepting class so that when I felt comfortable precepting, I could “dive right into it”.

The next week, she asked me to precept a student who is needing to do her 96 hour stint before she graduates.  I reluctantly said ok.  I looked at it as a way to give back to the nursing profession but still had my reservations about being able to help someone become a good nurse.  After all, I’d only been working for 7 months.  I received a packet from this student and it gave me a list of all the things she is supposed to do independently.  Things like assessments, foleys, putting a patient in traction, NGT feedings… Yikes.  No way was I going to let anyone do this unattended on my license.

So I had my first shift w/ her yesterday.  The bummer is that because she’s not a new grad or trainee, I’m expected to take on a full assignment while watching her.  She did ok but I couldn’t gauge how much she knew because she asked no questions throughout the day.  That scared me because that means that a: she knew everything. or b: knew nothing but was scared to say so.  She basically shadowed me because she doesn’t have a password to do any of her own charting.

I have another shift w/ her tomorrow and I think I’m going to just have her shadow me again.  How do preceptors do this??? It’s a nerve wracking thing.  I will let her do procedures but I almost get the impression that students are overly concerned w/ starting IV’s.  I had another student follow me last Tuesday and all she asked was if I’d let her start an IV.  I told her if any of the patients clogged their IV beyond salvation, they could do one.  My patients will not be pin cushions just so a student nurse could practice.  However, if they needed one started, she would be the first to know.  She walked away pretty disappointed w/ me.  LOL…

My student asked me for “sage words of advice”.  I told her to always act as a patient advocate and to remember what my favorite nursing teacher told me.  “Is everyone breathing?  Is anyone bleeding?  If the answer is yes and no then everything will be ok. ”  That always makes me smile and remember to do everything as I prioritize them.

Update on FS.  He can wiggle his toes.  Yeah!!! He and I almost cried when we saw that.  Physical therapy continues to work w/ him and he’s in good spirits.  He still isn’t able to care for himself and rely on us and his family but he’s got one that cares about him.  I always feel bad for those patients that have no one who visits them in the hospital.   The docs have decided to carefully anticoagulate him on coumadin so hopefully he doesn’t have another stroke.

Off to knit the right front of my airy lacy wrap!



  1. Oh, it’s so hard when you are new and don’t want to “hurt anyone”. This June marks the 20th (egad!) anniversary of my graduation from nursing school. First thing I want to say to you is: you will be OK. You will be a great preceptor b/c you are such a great patient advocate. Next thing to say is: think about the preceptors that truly made a difference for YOU when you were a student. What made them stand out? How did they help you be the nurse you are today? With regard to your student: yes, she should shadow but TEACH as she shadows. Explain to your patient’s that you will have a student with you and that you will be reviewing things with her throughout the day. Then, teach her what and why you are doing things as you do them. You will “know” when it’s OK to let her do something as you do this. As you teach, ask her questions to get her to think about why things are happening or being done. This will a) boost her confidence or teach her what she doesn’t know and b) will help you see what things she DOES know and give you the comfort that she can do some things.

    It’s hard when you are new but you will be great and I think you need to trust your inner nursing voice. . . . she will tell you when it’s ok to let someone else do things.

    Good luck!

    Comment by knittingnurse — April 29, 2007 @ 6:35 pm | Reply

  2. comment not related to this post: I started the lacy
    kerchief scarf from Interweave last week and just got
    to the yo increase rows. I was confused by the apparent
    switch to a 6 row repeat from the 8 row repeat and change
    in number of stitches. Anyway… I googled the scarf and
    came across your blog and the answer to my question (from
    your August 2005 archives)! I’m so happy I can continue
    knitting without any down time!!! PS I also have
    2 dachshunds. Yours are so cute! Good luck with the

    Comment by jan — April 30, 2007 @ 9:19 pm | Reply

  3. Wow–that’s a lot of responsibility to be tackling. I can understand why you’d be concerned about the lack of questions. I hope things go well and that the communication chanels open up a bit.


    Comment by sarah-hope — April 30, 2007 @ 9:22 pm | Reply

  4. Jan,
    I’m glad you were able to get help w/ the clarification from IK. I remember how stumped I was. But… the internet always has help!

    Comment by yarnnut — May 1, 2007 @ 12:43 am | Reply

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