What is a preceptor?
Preceptors are a combination of professional mentors and educational instructors. They serve to help students ground their classroom theoretical learnings in professional and practical experiences.
How to be a good preceptor:
Communicate. Ask your student what they want to learn during their time with your organization. This helps students feel empowered to communicate their goals and objectives for their learning experience while at your organization
Share your story and your interests. Some of the best wisdom and knowledge is gained through life experiences. Sharing your past experiences with students may inspire action and create curiosity in an area they may not have been previously interested.
Ask questions. It is important to build relationships with the student you are precepting. Asking them questions about their interests makes it even easier to do so. In the workplace, ask leading questions that require interns to dig deep and think critically about next steps
Be flexible. Students/interns may need more guidance during the initial weeks of placement until they feel confident in their abilities and become more independent in their projects. Be open to tailoring support provided over the course of a preceptorship to allow for growth in the learner’s skills and competencies.
Give feedback and reflect. Feedback should be provided in a neutral, private setting, given regularly, and occur close to the event that warrants discussion. Reassurance and positive reinforcement given throughout the day can emphasize areas of practice that are performed well. Ideally, feedback is provided at the end of each day. Providing feedback does not have to take a long time and can often be done within 5 minutes.
Effective preceptors help to facilitate a positive transition from the classroom to practice in a supportive, encouraging environment to ensure the success of emerging professionals.