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Working Well with Your Nursing Preceptor

nursing preceptor, nursing student

Whether you are a student in a clinical preceptorship, or precepting in a new position, there are unwritten rules of “etiquette” in place when working with a nursing preceptor. Follow these tips for a more positive and enriching experience. When in doubt, pause and put yourself in the preceptor’s shoes to gain insight into your responses before you respond.

Never act like you know everything upfront. Using expressions akin to “Duh” or “I knew that” do not bode well for a positive preceptorship experience. Allow the preceptor to do his or her job which is to teach you what you need to know. Until he/she assesses your skill and knowledge abilities, he/she may train you at a level below what you think you deserve. Let him/her make the adjustment based on your demonstrated skills and abilities. Do not act like you are better than his/her training or that he/she is wasting your time!

Be a listerner, not a talker. Your preceptor’s job – in addition to his or her regular duties – is to train you to excel in performing in your new nursing position. He/she is giving you a wealth of information. Listen to that information and write it down if you have to. Don’t interrupt when the preceptor is talking with pearls of wisdom such as, “That’s not how I did it at my last job.” You will not win points. Listening is an active and interactive experience.Be there for it.

Ask lots of questions. Remember, there are no dumb questions – just unasked ones. Your preceptor wants you to clarify issues and asks questions. Don’t save the questions for the day you start working on your own. Question instructions for clarification and further information as needed. You do not look dumb by asking a lot of questions. Your preceptor knows you are listening and are engaged in the process when you ask questions.
Allow your preceptor to be your resource. He/she did not just enter the organization as you are doing. A preceptor is chosen by management because of his/her experience in the job position and nursing skills and knowledge. Use this to your advantage and have the preceptor be your resource for everything. You don’t need to limit this resource to on-the-job duties – they even have useful information such as where the closest bathroom is and what time the cafeteria opens.

Thank your preceptor at every opportunity. When I was working at a pediatric ER, I remember a co-worker, whose nursing student was not following the above tips say, “Time for my 13 dollar headache.” She was getting paid an extra dollar an hour to be a nursing preceptor. Even with a positive experience, that is not close to payment enough for the extra mile a preceptor goes every day for you. You do not need to shower this person with compliments or gifts – although he/she would likely not mind. But you do need to thank this person, at least once a day, for his/her attention to your needs. Expressing appreciation is still one of the best cost-free gifts a person can extend to another.


About the Author: Sue Heacock, RN, MBA, COHN-S is the author of Inspiring the Inspirational: Words of Hope From Nurses to Nurses, a compilation of stories from nurses around the country, with a sprinkling of inspirational quotes.  Sue is a Certified Occupational Health Nurse Specialist and has worked in a variety of areas of nursing including pediatrics and research.  Before entering the nursing profession, Sue worked in human resources and equal employment opportunity.
Click here to read more on Sue Heacock.

Source: NurseTogether.com

Nurses and Nutrition: You CAN Eat Right at Work

By Linda Beattie, contributor

It is just after midnight, your shift is well underway and there is a long list of patients waiting for your help. Who has time to eat? Besides, it’s hard to find nutritious food at work and you’re trying to cut back, right? Don’t fool yourself—skipping a meal is one of the worst things you can do for yourself, and there aresome healthy options.

Nurses usually learn about good nutrition in their undergraduate studies, but the reality of shift work and the hectic pace at the hospital or other health care setting can make it hard to follow even the most common-sense principles. Hospital food service programs haven’t helped much in the past, either.

Thankfully, nutrition experts are teaming up with food service managers to make more healthy and tasty choices available for all hospital food patrons—including patients, visitors and staff—and to offer advice to their health care colleagues.

“At hospital cafeterias, we’ve really made it a point to develop more nutritious hot entrees, grab-and-go options, salad bars and healthy snacks. When we’re talking about nurses eating healthy, it can be a real challenge because of their schedule,” said Dee Sandquist, MS, RD, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association and director of nutrition, weight managment and diabetes at Southwest Washington Medical Center in Vancouver, Washington.

“Nurses need quick choices,” she continued. “They need good snacks available and they need to be careful not to get over-hungry, because that can cause them to overeat or make less healthy choices.”


Nurses’ Kindness Not Always Shared With Each Other

By Nancy Deutsch, RN, contributor

A new nurse had a busy night shift on a med-surg unit. At 3 a.m., one of her patients started to crash, so she spent the night working with the patient, skipping her break, not having time to chart or do much with any of the other patients. When it was time to report to the day shift, one of the nurses who had just come on immediately demanded to know why another patient’s pre-op checklist was not complete, without listening to what the night nurse had experienced.“Where’s our compassion for each other?” asked Seattle nurse Kathleen Bartholomew, RN, MSN.Bartholomew said this is not an isolated example of how nurses can be unkind to each other. “I observed these behaviors,” she said. “They were hurtful, but they didn’t mean to hurt each other; it’s frustration.”Troubled by this issue, Bartholomew wrote the book Ending Nurse to Nurse Hostility: Why Nurses Eat Their Young and Each Other, interviewing hundreds of nurses who were upset by the behavior of their peers.Bartholomew, who has a master’s degree in nursing from the University of Washington and still works as a nurse a few days a month at the Swedish Medical Center, said that “at the very core” of the problem is “the fact that we’re not united.“We’re the only profession that can’t seem to get it together on what the entry level should be.”She believes the behavior stems from nurses’ belief that they lack influence. While nurses no longer rush to give up their seats or bring coffee to physicians, “We still show deference in little ways,” she said, adding that when people feel powerless, they often lash out at others—even unconsciously.Bartholomew pointed out that much hostility between nurses is passive-aggressive, and many new nurses witness this when more experienced nurses answer questions abruptly or not at all.An example is during the preceptor relationship when new nurses sometimes feel they are a burden to veteran nurses. Preceptors don’t get a lighter load in order to take time to train a new nurse, and that can cause some conflict, according to Bartholomew.Bartholomew is quick to point out that these issues can be overcome—and that new nurses can take a leadership role in changing the cultural dynamic.“Talking it out is the answer,” she said. “Always respond to the non-verbal, to the feelings. Respond to that nurse. Say, ‘I know you say nothing’s wrong but the tone of your voice says differently. Please tell me what’s wrong.’“If you don’t speak to the truth,” Bartholomew explained, “you can’t fix it.”You Can Fix It (more…)

Real-World Advice for New Nurses

By Karen Siroky, RN, MSN, and Christina Orlovsky, contributors

So, you’re a new nurse. How does it feel? Are you overwhelmed? Starting to become comfortable? Adjusting to the pace? Do your feet hurt? Do you find yourself thinking about your patients or actions you performed even after you are at home?These are all normal reactions to the stress of the first few months of a nursing position. You have transitioned from the role of student to that of professional with serious responsibilities in a short period of time. It’s no surprise that it takes some adjustments.As you grow into your new role, remember that countless others have made this transition—and survived! Nurses, who have passed through those first 90 days, can relate sepcficially to what you are going through and offer real-world advice.“Make sure that your preceptor fits your learning style and ask all questions that come to mind,” advised Lunette Castillo, RN, a new nurse in the adult surgical heart unit at Christ Medical Center, in Oak Lawn, Illinois. “If your preceptor does not fit your learning style/needs, then request another preceptor. Don’t be afraid to speak up!”Being a team player also helps create a better rapport with experienced nurses. “Remember that small gestures can make big differences, [such as] hanging a courtesy bag of IV fluids, removing IV bag/tubing if the cap was left off, labeling IV tubing, etc.,” said new nurse Juanita Allen, a hematology/oncology nurse at Pennsylvania Hospital, in Philadelphia.“The nurse is the glue that holds patient care together,” added Shelby Wintermute, RN, about what she first noticed as a new cardiac nurse at Licking Memorial Hospital, in Newark, Ohio. “Nothing happens without the nurse. We are the communication link that connects the physicians, pharmacy, RT, PT, and so on to the patients and their care.”Adjusting to your role as patient advocate and communicator takes time and effort, but hopefully, you are also experiencing some of the personal rewards that nursing can bring to you. Realizing you can truly make a difference in a person’s life is rewarding. Just ask Nina Vella, RN, a new ICU nurse at St. Edward Mercy Medical Center, in Fort Smith, Arkansas.“Being a nurse will change your life. It changes your outlook on a lot of things—makes you more passionate about some, thankful for some and just down-right mad about others,” Vella said, adding that the best part of being a nurse is “getting to genuinely make a difference in someone’s life. When a patient tells you ‘thank you for saving my life,’ you can’t help but to be proud. When you get to watch a patient that you didn’t know would live or not walk out of a hospital and know that you are a part of the reason they can live again, you can’t explain the feeling!” Getting it RightEach day you gain new skills and new confidence.

“I’ve learned that I need to be patient with myself. As a new nurse, I’m not going to know everything or always do everything exactly right at first. So, my advice would be to give yourself time, learn from everything and don’t sweat the little stuff,” said Kerry Willis, RN, a new critical care nurse at Tampa General Hospital in Florida. “The worst part is feeling like you just are not prepared. Slowly but surely those feelings subside with each and every new experience. As a new nurse you must learn to grow from every experience.”


Selected Nursing Videos

Find and study online from John Hopkins School of Nursing (SON) Portfolios…Simply click on the link below…enjoy

Clinical Interviews Videos

Evidences Based Practice Videos 

Nutrition Videos

Communication in Nursing


  1. Is the means to establish a helping-healing relationship. All behavior communication influences behavior.
  2. Communication is essential to the nurse-patient relationship for the following reasons:
  3. Is the vehicle for establishing a therapeutic relationship.
  4. It the means by which an individual influences the behavior of another, which leads to the successful outcome of nursing intervention.

Basic Elements of the Communication Process 

  1. Sender – is the person who encodes and delivers the message
  2. Messages – is the content of the communication. It may contain verbal, nonverbal, and symbolic language.
  3. Receiver – is the person who receives the decodes the message.
  4. Feedback – is the message returned by the receiver. It indicates whether the meaning of the sender’s message was understood.




  • It is the process of exchanging information or feelings between two or more people. It is a basic component of human relationship, including nursing.

The Communication process


  • Or stimulus motivates a person to communicate with another. It may be an object, emotion, idea or act.


  • Also called the encoder, is the person who initiates the interpersonal communication or message


  • The information that is sent or expressed by the sender.


  • It means, conveying messages such as through visual, auditory and tactile senses.


  • Also called the decoder, is the person to whom the message is sent


  • Helps to reveal whether the meaning of the message is received




  • Central to all helping professions, and enables persons to create meaning in their lives.
  • Means that people, relationships, and things matter

Nursing Theories of Caring 

Culture Care Diversity and Universality Theory (Leininger)

  • Based on transcultural nursing model
  • Transcultural nursing: a learned branch of nursing that focuses on the comparative study & analysis of cultures as they apply to nursing and health-illness practices, beliefs, and values
  • Goal of Transcultural Nursing: to provide care that is congruent with cultural values, beliefs, and practices
  • Cultures exhibit both diversity and universality
  • Diversity – perceiving, knowing, and practicing care in different ways
  • Universality – commonalities of care
  • Fundamental Theory Aspects – culture, care, cultural care, world view, folk health or well-being systems


Time Management Tips For Nurses

Working as a nurse is a very time demanding job or career. This career is not the usual 8 hours a day job wherein people can go home as soon as 8 hours of work is finished. Nurses who are working at the hospitals or other medical institution usually works a lot more than that day in and day out due to the demanding task and sensitive responsibility they have. Also, nurse working hours changes a lot, depending on the situation at hand.


Transcultural Nursing


  • Madeleine Leininger is considered as the founder of the theory of transcultural nursing.
  • Her theory has now developed as a discipline in nursing.
  • Evolution of her theory can be understood from her books:
    • Culture Care Diversity and Universality (1991)
    • Transcultural Nursing (1995)
    • Transcultural Nursing (2002)
  • Transcultural nursing theory is also known as Culture Care theory.
  • Theoretical framework is depicted in her model called the Sunrise Model (1997).

Image Courtesy: http://www.workingnurse.com


  • One of the first nursing theorist and transcultural global nursing consultant.
  • MSN – Catholic University in Washington DC.
  • PhD in anthropology – University of Washington.
  • She developed the concept of transcultural nursing and the ethnonursing research model.
  • For more details: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madeleine_Leininger