Many nursing students and new graduates become discouraged because of a bad experience they might have had with an impatient preceptor or a nurse who has been in this field for decades. Never forget that we were in their shoes at one time, feeling lost and praying for someone to take us under their wing to show us the way. Nursing is an exciting career with many possibilities in the types of career one can have over the course of their career. A very important part of our nursing career is to always teach and be a positive role model for the younger or newer nurse.
Make teaching fun
Believe me, I know how busy nursing units are on a daily basis; answering call bells, medicating patients, rounding with doctors, charting, new admission and discharges – the list goes on and on. The last thing you need is to find out that you’re going to have a student nurse or new nurse with you for the whole shift. Instead of finding another nurse to preceptor the student, make a checklist of a few nursing tasks for her to help you with or observe. They don’t have to be daunting tasks, choose simple tasks like showing her how to start an IV, set up an IV pump or show her how to string OR tubing together and make it fun and exciting. Demonstrating simple tasks for a nursing student and allowing her to participate will have rewards for the both of you. Always praise nursing students and new grads when they perform a task correctly to give them the confidence they need to go on and don’t be afraid to critique in a professional manner when needed.
Teaching keeps your own nursing skills in check
One thing I really like about teaching a nursing students or new grads is that it keeps my skills in check. Before teaching a student, it’s a good idea to review your unit’s policy and procedures manual. That way you’ll refresh your knowledge of how to perform a certain task. There are times when I review a procedure in the policy book where I work and discover a step in a task that I forgot to do correctly by taking a short cut here and there.
Instill a positive light into a student’s or new nurse’s life
Having a positive attitude is just as contagious as having a negative attitude. Nursing is a very challenging career and there will be days you’ll wonder “why oh why did I choose this career.” Make a conscious decision to have a good attitude when teaching, mentoring or precepting a student, even if you aren’t having a great day yourself. You’re attitude is going to be remembered by her or him for a very long time. The day will go by much smoother, staff will get along better and your student will learn more. Representing your workplace by having a positive attitude also helps to retain nurses and who knows, your nursing student may decide to work there one day because of the time you took to teach her.