Hi there! So you’re just starting out: you have your scrubs, your schedule, and you’re really excited. However, just a few days before starting your rotation, you get a little nervous thinking: What if my preceptor doesn’t like me?
Almost every nurse practitioner will face that question at one point or another. How do you build a good relationship with your preceptor? What can you do to maintain it?
Let’s look at some ways for you to do that. And don’t worry: it’s okay to be nervous. You’ve gotten this far, always remember that. Working with a preceptor is just another part of this big adventure.
1. Start by thinking out loud
When you see a patient with your preceptor, state what the problem is and what they need. Include details. Try to show everything that you know so far. In this way, the preceptor will be able to see how you perform the first few times.
The key point is not waiting for the preceptor to ask you what’s wrong, or what needs to be done. You are showing initiative, and you’re also making things easier for the both of you.
You won’t have to do this for the entirety of your preceptorship. This strategy is just for when you’re getting started. Eventually, you’ll have built enough trust and experience to just do a quick check up with your preceptor.
2. Be on time
It might seem obvious, but punctuality is not just a part of someone’s personality. It’s a skill. You can develop yourself to be more punctual, and you should (if that’s a problem you’re dealing with).
Being on time doesn’t just mean going in first and leaving last. It also means being on time to a patient’s room, to a meeting with your preceptor, to every event that has a schedule.
We won’t dive too deep into this, it’s pretty straightforward. However, it’s not easy. It requires some effort on your part. You should strive for being where you need to be at the exact time you need to be there. Not too early, and especially not too late.
3. Ask (the right) questions
Surely, you must have heard somewhere that asking too many questions is bad. Some people think it makes you seem insecure. However, if you agree with that, there’s a chance you won’t ask any questions at all. You’ll be too afraid to look like you’re not confident in your work.
As you gain experience, you will learn to ask the right questions. However, it’s important to get a head start by asking a few first. Your preceptor will appreciate you taking the initiative.
Also, remember that you are there to learn, and that the preceptor agreed to teach you. Don’t shy away from questions. It won’t make you nicer or more agreeable.
A good question shows that you’re curious. When you’re nervous, you might find yourself asking questions that you know how to answer. Use point number one to get everything’s that obvious out of the way.
4. Be a ‘yes’ person
It’s important that you don’t burnout while doing your rotations. However, you should try to lend a hand every now and then. Your preceptor (and coworkers) will appreciate the gesture.
Being a ‘yes’ person is about identifying opportunities to create trust and respect between you, your preceptor, and your colleagues. They will know that they can rely on you.
Being a ‘yes’ person is a very effective way to make your preceptor see you in a good light. It makes a really good impression on people. Some might be trying to build a good relationship with their preceptors by giving them presents or attention (which is also a kind thing to try every now and then if you’re comfortable with it). However, it’s always more important to be the one that helps to get things done.
We have to point out that it is also very important to know when to say no. You don’t want people to see you as a pushover. Focus on helping with the medical and professional stuff.
5. Act like a professional
Even though you’re still a student, you have to start conducting yourself as a nurse practitioner. Embrace the role and your preceptor will appreciate it. After all, it’s a sign that you have the confidence to do this job right.
All of the tips above will help you be as professional as you can be. They will help you with your insecurities and your shortcomings. However, it’s up to you to act the part and have your patients’ best interests in mind.
We have to add that there’s a chance your preceptor won’t like you. If you’re doing things correctly, you have to understand that it’s out of your hands, and if you’re too uncomfortable with the situation and on time to find another preceptor, please do so. It’s ideal for you to work in a healthy environment in order to be able to learn.
Bonus tip: What do I do if my preceptor just doesn’t like me?
As we were saying, sometimes it won’t be your fault. You’re doing your best, right? That’s what really matters.
Here, at NPHub, we always try to match NP students with their ideal preceptors. However, it doesn’t always go according to plan. If that’s your situation, do not hesitate to contact us. We’ll work something out.
If you found your preceptor on your own, don’t worry, we can still help! We’ve got lots of content for student NPs looking to crush their rotations. Finding a preceptor is, sometimes, the hardest part of the experience. Getting through it can be a lot easier.
However, if you’re not feeling comfortable with your preceptor, and you have the time and opportunity to find a new one, go for it! It’s important to feel comfortable enough to learn.
In any case, cheers! You seem like a person who’s interested in making the best out of their clinical experience. That’s probably why you’re reading this article. Here’s a virtual fist bump!
Keep your head up, look for a healthy environment, do you part and we’re sure you’re going to achieve great things!
If you need some inspiration, listen to our Healthcare Heroes podcast for interviews with leading nurse practitioners and nurse entrepreneurs.
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