Dear Nurse Marge,
I’ve got a real problem, and I don’t know what to do! I’ve got a student nurse I’m precepting and this girl is just absolutely horrible. Mistake after mistake after mistake — nothing serious yet, Thank God, but it’s the ‘yet’ I’m worried about. I’ve talked to her about how important it is to check and double check everything, and to make sure she KNOWS what she’s supposed to be doing before she starts doing it, but I’m just not getting through to her.
What do I do? I’m living in terror of the moment her careless incompetence goes from ‘uh-oh’ to “OH NO!”
Stressed Over Student
Oh, what fun it is to be a preceptor. I fondly remember those days…oh, wait. I didn’t really like it, either. Being there to help another nurse learn the ropes is obviously valuable to the nurse doing the learning, but it can be rough on the nurse doing the teaching.
One thing that helped me is realizing that my student nurses could teach me things I would otherwise never know. For example, did you know that there’s an iPhone application you can use to assess jaundice? In my day, we’d just squint and say, “Little guy’s kind of yellow…” but now, I can get the same information from my iPhone.
Another thing that helps is to access your facility’s standing pharmaceutical order for preceptors. Generally, this is Ativan, .5mg q15min or PRN. (This is for YOU, not for your student!)
If neither of those help, and you’re not snoring like a poleaxed ox from all the Ativan, try remembering these three things:
1. You were a student nurse once. This is just payback for how you broke your preceptor’s heart and stole their sanity.
2. Making mistakes are how we learn: even though it’s making you nuts, this process is essential for your student to someday be a great nurse.
3. There’s always the NCLEX.