Are you a nursing student looking to become a nurse preceptor? The best way to learn how is by being a nurse yourself.

A nursing preceptor plays a vital role in nursing, mentoring new nurses and helping them acclimate to the job and hospital environment. They help students gain the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed when they become fully licensed nurses.

But what skills do you need to become a great nursing preceptor? This article will outline the critical skills nursing students need before pre-training for this rewarding job opportunity.

What is a preceptor in nursing?

A nurse preceptor is an experienced nurse who acts as a mentor for new nurses. The preceptor provides guidance and support to help the new nurses transition into their roles.

For instance, they might teach on-the-job skills such as caring for certain types of patients or providing specific treatments. They may also be responsible for reviewing documentation, providing feedback on performance, and helping students become more confident in their abilities.

Some nursing schools assign nursing preceptors during the last year of schooling to prepare students for real-world experiences in hospitals or clinics when they graduate. Doing so gives the new nurse some insight into what they will do once they have completed their education.

As the student spends time with their preceptor, they can get a feel for what it is like to work in this environment, including any challenges that arise.

Skills you need to become a great nursing preceptor

Nursing preceptor skills are the abilities and experience necessary for someone to provide guidance and support for new nurses. These skills can help you become a great nursing preceptor, and an influential teacher and mentor.

If you are interested in taking on this role, consider working on these skills as you prepare to become a great nursing preceptor:

Understand human behavior

Nurses are in a unique position to understand human behavior. They see patients at their most vulnerable moments and can build relationships with them.

To be a great nursing preceptor, you must be able to understand human behavior, and one of the best ways to do so is by understanding your own.

Acknowledge your strengths, weaknesses, and what motivates or angers you. Empathize with others and try not to react negatively if someone disagrees with you.

Your nursing students must learn empathy through modeling to use it in their future careers as nurses.

Have effective interpersonal communication

Communicating effectively with your students means listening attentively, providing clear and concise instructions, and giving positive and constructive feedback.

Effective communication will help ensure you fully prepare for the next step in the nursing process by knowing what steps need completing. Additionally, it will allow you to identify potential barriers in a student’s knowledge base or skill set.

For example, if a student struggles with giving medication correctly, you would want to review with them the correct technique of administering medication. That way, they will not make mistakes when working independently as an RN.

Have the ability to cope with stressful situations

Working as a nurse preceptor can be incredibly rewarding, but it can also be quite stressful. For example, when working with a new student, the nursing preceptor might sometimes make tough decisions to ensure their student is successful.

To be a great preceptor, you must be able to cope with stressful situations calmly and professionally. One great way to manage stress is by learning techniques such as deep breathing exercises or mindful meditation.

Know how to manage time effectively

As a preceptor, you will be responsible for managing your time and the time of the nurse you are precepting. This action means being able to juggle multiple tasks at once and being able to adjust quickly when things do not go as planned.

For example, suppose the nurse you are working with is struggling with one aspect of their job. In that case, it is vital to shift your focus to help them without losing momentum on other parts of the job.

It may sound complicated, but experienced nurses have mastered this skill over time. Nurse preceptors must learn how to prioritize and manage their tasks in addition to those they teach others.

The ability to think critically

If you want to be a great nursing preceptor, you need to think critically. That means being able to analyze a situation and come up with the best solution.

It also means understanding complex concepts and breaking them down into simpler terms. Additionally, critical thinking requires seeing both sides of an issue and weighing the pros and cons of each option.

That way, when someone comes to you for advice or help, you can give them the most objective and well-informed answer possible. Critical thinking is one of the essential skills in this role because it helps put things in perspective.

Practice and teaching skills

Being a great nursing preceptor requires more than just clinical expertise. As a preceptor, you will be responsible for teaching and mentoring new nurses, so practice and teaching skills are essential.

With good teaching skills, you will be able to teach better and in a less complex way. As a result, your students will learn more quickly and can do their job better in the long run.

Teaching comes in many forms, including lectures, demonstrations, discussions, reading assignments and presentations. Good instructional techniques include using examples and keeping classes interactive and up to date on industry changes.

Developing relationships with your students is also essential because it helps them feel comfortable coming to you if they have any problems or questions.

Final thoughts

Becoming a nursing preceptor can be a rewarding experience with great responsibility. To be an effective nursing preceptor, you must have strong communication and organizational skills.

You must be able to motivate and inspire others and be patient and understanding. Most importantly, you must be passionate about nursing and committed to helping others reach their full potential. If you have these qualities, you have what it takes to be a great nursing preceptor.