Preceptors serve as role models to new nurses, demonstrating professionalism, compassion, and the highest standards of nursing practice.
A nurse preceptor is an experienced nurse who provides guidance to a student nurse. Preceptors support student nurses by sharing their knowledge and skills and modelling professional practice. A preceptor's responsibilities include:
Taking the time to understand the student nurse's current level of competence.
Providing the student nurse with support and resources.
Creating a safe learning environment.
Supervising the student's nursing care and ensuring safe practices.
Evaluating the student's proficiency level in the clinical setting.
Communicating with the clinical instructor to discuss the student's performance.
Nurses act as preceptors for nursing students in many clinical settings. Their clinical direction and supervision support students to practise and consolidate skills.
Students in a preceptorship role are ready for more independent practice and no longer need direct supervision by a clinical instructor; however, they still require
regulatory supervision. Regulatory supervision is a process that protects the public by having a nurse authorize activities a nursing student can perform.
As a preceptor, this means you are responsible and accountable when authorizing student activities. Unlike a nurse who may briefly interact with a student, preceptors play a greater role in providing regulatory supervision for a student.
It also means you need to know what regulatory supervision entails, as outlined in the Regulatory Supervision of Students practice standard.
Robin is an RN on the surgical floor in an urban hospital and is Sera's preceptor. Robin's been a preceptor before and finds an initial meeting is helpful to clarify expectations on both sides. Robin and Sera set a time to meet in the cafeteria before starting the preceptorship.
Over coffee, Robin reviews the course outline and the competencies Sera's learned in her program. Sera shares her goals for the preceptorship and what she hopes to learn on the surgical unit.
Now that Robin has a good idea of Sera's level of competence and confidence, they discuss a plan for the activities Sera will demonstrate in the first week and ideas for how more complex activities will be authorized when she is ready. Robin asks Sera to tell her whenever she is facing a new activity so they can review expectations together. They agree to set aside time during each shift to talk about Sera's progress with her learning goals and the activities she would like to practice.
Over that first coffee, Robin and Sera have begun their preceptor–student relationship. Sera feels Robin's support and interest and looks forward to consolidating her skills with Robin's guidance. Robin leaves the meeting reflecting on her role in protecting the public as she provides regulatory supervision for activities Sera will perform.
B.C. Preceptor Development Initiative
For further guidance on understanding and applying the standards of
practice, contact our team by completing the Standards Support intake form.