Clinical practice is a crucial and vital part of nursing education. Clinical evaluation is key to ensuring learners’ clinical competence, application of knowledge and clinical reasoning, all of which are important to patient safety and the provision of quality nursing care. Preceptorship is a learning opportunity for learners in nursing to gain hands-on experience in a health care setting under the guidance of someone who is experienced in nursing. Preceptorship facilitates the transition into nursing practice for a BCIT BSN learner. The aim of this document is to assist the preceptor by providing clarity around how to be an effective preceptor as it relates to facilitating learning, providing feedback and how to addressing learner concerns.
Teaching and Learning in the Clinical Setting
General Teaching Strategies
- Begin from the simple to the complex.
- Build from the known and move towards the unknown.
- Build on prior knowledge.
- Teach skills in small chunks and in a logical sequence.
- Use demonstration and return demonstration for skill development.
- Encourage learners to ask questions.
- Answer learner questions.
- Encourage learners to provide rationales for answers.
- Debrief learners when involved in an incident.
- Encourage discussion and reflection on practice.
- Provide positive feedback.
- Provide negative or constructive feedback in private and immediately afterwards.
Strategies to help the learner learn and work independently include:
- Ensure you know something about the individual learner’s prior experience, skills and knowledge. This helps understand where the learner is at and helps build trust between both preceptor and learner.
- Provide an onsite unit orientation the first day of clinical. Include introductions to staff members, the unit lay out, location of supplies and equipment, agency policy and procedures, daily routines, etc.
- The use of questioning both recall and analysis type questions, enables the preceptor to determine a learner’s knowledge level.
- The use of observation enables the instructor to determine a learner’s skill level.
- Recognizing the value of your own skills and knowledge and being prepared to share these with the learner;
- Encouraging the learner to ask questions. You may not know all the answers but demonstrating to the learner how to find out the necessary information can be more useful than just telling them the answer;
- Making it clear what you expect of the learner;
- Asking the learner to identify their areas for improvement in their plans and aiming to secure learning opportunities that support the achievement;
- Being patient. It is important to remember that it takes longer for a learner to complete a task than it would for an experienced, qualified professional.
- Allowing the learner to practice as independently as possible. Encouraging them to recognize the healthcare priorities for their allocated patient load, to develop their own time plan, deliver their care, handover and document their actions while offering appropriate prompting and constructive ideas for future improvement.
- Giving more support or add challenging tasks when necessary;
- Establishing a positive learner/preceptor relationship that encourages discussion and sharing;
- When the learner is unsure of something, have them look up the information. This demonstrates to the learner how to find the necessary information.