Nurse preceptors are important partners to new hires on a unit. Whenever a nurse joins a unit, whether they’re a new grad, an experienced transfer, or an external hire, they are assigned a preceptor. At Northside Hospital, those new hires will be assigned a team of preceptors through our new Nurse Preceptor Program.
While Northside has long offered a class for new preceptors, this will be something far bigger. The program is designed as an extra element to support new hires, units, and preceptors’ career growth. Sarah Bontrager, Clinical Education Service Line Coordinator, says: “Our goal is to meet preceptors at their level of preceptor expertise and support them and their unit in three unique ways: education, rewards and recognition, and unit support.”
The program, which each unit will have the option to opt in to, will consist of three levels of nurse preceptors. Each level is representative of a different amount of experience and education. Preceptors will have the opportunity to advance levels over time. For new hires, this means there will be a preceptor to meet them at each level of their orientation journey.
Level 1: Competent Preceptor
- Take Nurse Preceptor Development I, which consists of online interactive modules and a 4-hour class that provides introductory skills and tools
Level 1 Nurse Preceptors are fairly new to precepting. These are nurses who are settled into their bedside clinical role, are practicing safely, and are building on their precepting skills after being identified as a future preceptor by unit leadership.
Level 2: Proficient Preceptor
- Precept for 300+ hours
- Take Nurse Preceptor Development 2, which consists of online interactive modules and a 2-hour class designed to help preceptors think critically about how to handle tough situations and uncomfortable conversations
Level 2 Nurse Preceptors have likely been precepting for anywhere from two to five years. They are experienced on the floor and as a preceptor. They are starting to push themselves professionally, taking on more responsibility and seeking out new opportunities.
Level 3: Expert Preceptor
In the next year, the program will be rolling out the expert level precepting criteria and education. As the name implies, these nurses are expert bedside practitioners, as well as expert preceptors. Their experiences in both roles make them an essential part of the precepting team.
A Whole New Way of Doing Things
An entire team of nurses and non-nurses have worked together on this program to make it what it is. Beyond the support it provides to units and new nurses at Northside, it also helps nurse preceptors grow into whatever role they’re interested in, whether that’s in education or leadership. These nurses can continue practicing in the roles they enjoy, while also receiving additional training in leadership, various career opportunities and support, and an increased pay differential.
Bontrager says: “We’re really excited about this program. It’s going to be a great way for us to advance the practice of our nurse preceptors and really support the units as they’re onboarding and hiring staff. This is a totally different way to look at orienting staff. It’s team precepting. New nurses are not working with one preceptor for their entire orientation. They’re working with a preceptor who’s going to meet them where they are. It’s a great way to support the preceptee, but also the preceptor.”
*If you’re interested in becoming a nurse preceptor, speak to your nurse leadership.