Understanding the preceptor and mentor role

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While experts have defined and described the concepts of a preceptor and mentor, some nurses remain confused as to how to apply these concepts in practice. The following are ways to help nurses understand the roles the preceptor and the mentor play:

Preceptors: Introduce preceptees to their new roles and responsibilities, coach them on basics (where to park, when to report, where to find supplies and resources, how to use unit-specific equipment, etc.), support and shape critical-thinking skills, evaluate performance and give feedback for improvement, introduce the nurse to a wider network of nurses, along with recommending preceptees for projects, committees, or advancements within the professional practice environment and community.

Mentors: Encourage nurses to find professional opportunities, such as exploring new leadership roles, accepting speaking or writing engagements, and acquiring advanced learning experiences. Mentors allow nurses to learn through many of their own experiences as mentees grow and develop through debate, listening, and communication with one another.

Source: Adapted from a previous version of HCPro's book Nurse Preceptor Program Builder. For more information about the latest edition, click here.