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Some of the preceptors at my facility are having difficulty teaching orientees critical thinking skills. Do you have any advice?


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Preceptors can help orientees develop and stimulate the use of critical thinking skills by following some of these suggestions:

Minimizing the emphasis on ability to perform skills and tasks: New hires are eager to complete the required "check-offs" for competencies related to performing clinical tasks. Preceptors should encourage them to focus on other aspects of their orientation as well.

Maximizing emphasis on the ability to recognize when the skill or task is needed: As new hires request to be "checked off" on various skills or tasks, preceptors should ask questions to demonstrate whether new hires have the ability to critical think through why the patient needs this particular task or skill performed.

Do not assume the new hire understands the what, why, how, or when of delivering nursing care: If the orientee is a seasoned nurse, the preceptor should not make assumptions that length of experience is directly related to knowledge and ability to use critical thinking skills. Instead, all new hires should be required to demonstrate the same knowledge. The preceptor can use prompting questions to begin the what, why, how, and when questioning to allow the new hire to demonstrate appropriate reasoning.

—Shelley Cohen, RN, BS, CEN