What are the Main Responsibilities of a Preceptor in Nursing?

For those not familiar with the nursing profession, the term ‘preceptor’ may come across as slightly odd. Yet, for those within the profession, it’s a different story: preceptors are indeed nurses who play a crucial role in the educational journey. They offer practical teaching experiences that are invaluable for nurses who are new to the field, guiding them into practical work. This article aims to delve deeper into the role of a preceptor and outline their key duties.

What is a preceptor?

A preceptor is a person who is a nurse themselves, and who is designated as a kind of guidance provider for those who are just entering the profession. Preceptors are qualified, and they act as a sort of intermediary between classroom study and full-on clinical practice. Preceptors are there to guide and help the student get closer to their goal – which is to help them qualify as a nurse themselves.

What does a preceptor do?

On an average day, a preceptor is likely to be found doing many different tasks. They may, for example, be found running through simulated sessions on anything from how to dress a patient’s wound to recording information about a safeguarding incident in a logbook. They may also be providing feedback to a student based on a previous interaction, or answering questions about what it means to be a nurse and how nursing care can best be delivered. As they are registered nurses themselves, they may even be practicing in between their education sessions. In short, life as a preceptor is busy!

Why are preceptors so important?

There are lots of different reasons why the role of preceptor is so important in the nursing profession.

Preceptors are there to help provide another layer of support and instruction on top of what the professor or tutor can offer. Often, a new trainee nurse might find themselves a little intimidated by their tutor, or at least somehow separated from them given that they are only at student level. The preceptor, on the other hand, has more in common with the student – and a rapport can be built. At universities such as Wilkes, preceptors can be on hand to assist at various points from Wilkes registration onwards – so long-term connections can be built.

Preceptors tend to be based in either care environments themselves or in simulated care environments. This provides balance for the trainee, as it means that they do not need to restrict themselves to their classroom in order to learn. What’s more, it can feel refreshing to hear the preceptor’s perspective, as it’s often grounded particularly in practice rather than in theory. Also, if there are problems, the preceptor can act as a sounding board and relay these upwards if needed.

Overall, preceptors are vitally important to the nursing industry. These talented individuals are there to simulate what life in the hospital or other care setting is like, and to help guide and support new nurses into becoming the best possible professional versions of themselves.

Krystal Morrison

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