Part of a nursing student's educational program is spent in a real clinical setting, working with patients under the tutelage of an experienced professional. That professional is called a preceptor. Registered nurse preceptors are chosen by the college officials who preside over the educational programs. In some cases, the student may recommend a preceptor to her teachers. To be considered for the role, potential preceptors have to meet the school's eligibility requirements, which vary from institution to institution.
Potential preceptors have to meet basic eligibility requirements, which may include having graduated from an accredited program, holding a nationally recognized license and possessing a certain number of years of experience. In many cases, the student can't have a relationship with the nurse outside of the preceptorship. The nurse under consideration also must have the time to take a student under her wing. She must understand the objectives of the course and focus on fulfilling them.
A preceptor is like a mentor to the nursing students in his care. To make sure he has what it takes to be effective and set a good example, school officials examine a prospective preceptor's temperament, communication skills and reputation at work. He should be positive and supportive, and show a listening attitude toward both his patient and his protege. He should be able to handle stressful situations with calm efficiency.
College officials look for preceptors who have provable experience in their fields. Minimum work requirements are put into place for this reason but officials gauge a nurse's abilities as well. They want to know that she's clinically competent and knows how to utilize the resources given to her. She has to be able to make an educated assessment of her patient's condition and demonstrate sound decision-making. She had to be organized and know how to delegate authority.
The best registered nurse in the world won't be of much use to a nursing student if he doesn't have teaching ability. He can't simply demonstrate what he does for a student, he also must be able to offer explanations. He must be able to orient his student with his clinical surroundings, and help him to understand safety and operating protocol. Finally, he should be able to objectively examine his student's progress and offer helpful feedback.
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