Daily Archives: November 27, 2011

Being a Preceptor to New Grads is an Honor | Love Your Nursing Life | Bobbi McCarthy

When I graduated nursing school wayyyyyy back in 1991, I was hired immediately by the hospital I currently work for. I began my nursing career on a med-surg floor working the day shift alongside the nurse who was chosen to be my preceptor, Laverne Pellitier. I had never met Laverne prior to this and I was very nervous, not only to meet her but to “be a real nurse.”

Laverne was a seasoned nurse, very professional and very nice. Her nursing skills were top notch and I learned sooooooooo much from her. She met me with a smile and a detailed packet of what I was to learn and how long I had to learn it. I received a full 6 months of training alongside Laverne. When the 6 months were up I truly felt ready to be on my own and to go to the night shift…Laverne had done her job and I was confident in my skills. Now this isn’t to say there weren’t moments of fear, tears and pain BUT there were more moments of joy, laughter and learning.

I wish I could say that every nurse I worked with during those first few weeks was kind…but that isn’t the case. There was quite a bit of “nurses eating their young and initiation type attitudes” going on towards myself and the 2 other new grads that had been hired. We now know that these attitudes are called lateral violence and sadly it occurs far too often! I hear horror stories about it all the time and in fact this type of unprofessional behavior causes many new grads to leave the nursing profession all together within their first year of nursing! (According to a literature review I performed on this topic recently).

All of this to say how proud I am of a young nurse that I had the honor of precepting as a new grad 3 years ago in the ER. Her name is Sarah and today she received an award for excellence in patient care in the ER. She is a remarkable young woman and nurse who I have the privilege of working alongside now in the ER as a fellow nurse. She came to me as a new grad full of intelligence and vigor! Her passion for nursing was evident and my job was to orient her to ER nursing and to assist her in putting the pieces of all she had learned together in that world of ER NURSING. I wish I could say she got a full 6 months to learn and stretch her wings but we do not have the luxury of having that much time to give…BUT she was ready to go off on her own despite the less amount of time…

When I decided to become a preceptor I wanted to treat the new grads as I had been treated by Laverne…I view the job of preceptor as an honor and a privilege. I want the new grads to feel safe and cared for and I pray they all have! It is our job as professional nurses and human beings to treat our new grads with respect and kindness while assisting them in learning. Being in their new position is terrifying and how can they learn compassion for their patients if they are being treated with such hostile attitudes…and how can they feel safe to learn new skills and even make a mistake in that environment? I’m sure many of you have horror stories from your new grad days, but I hope more of you had a preceptor like I did! Thank you Laverne, where ever you are!