Selecting Nurse Preceptors: What Qualities and Characteristics Should Be Considered?

Tuesday, 31 July 2012: 1:30 PM

E. Ann Mohide, MSc, MHSc, RN, BScN1
Barbara Jennings, MSHSA, RN2
Noori Akhtar-Danesh, PhD3
Wendy Seidlitz, MSc, RN, BScN2
Dianne Norman, BScN, RN2
Olivia Gerardi, BScN, RN, BSc1
Vanessa Cavalieri, BScN, RN1
Colleen A. McKey, PhD, RN, BScN, MScHSA, CHE4
(1)School of Nursing, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada
(2)McMaster Children's Hospital, Hamilton, ON, Canada
(3)School of Nursing, Biostatistics, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada
(4)Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Nursing, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to identify 10 key qualities/characteristics to consider when selecting nurse preceptors for senior BScN students.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to examine strategies that will help stakeholders to select and nurture preceptor development.

Purpose: To help stakeholders improve the selection process of nurse preceptors for senior baccalaureate nursing students, they were asked to rate the importance of preceptor qualities/characteristics. 

Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted in a large tertiary hospital and at an affiliated university nursing school in an urban Canadian city. Subjects (n=166) included hospital Registered Nurses (RNs) (with or without preceptor experience), educators, and administrators, as well as university faculty and students. In the instrument development phase of a larger preceptor selection study, representatives of the stakeholder groups were asked to identify preceptor issues. From a content analysis of the written responses, 24 preceptor qualities/characteristics emerged. Study subjects rated the 24 qualities/characteristics on a 0-100 rating scale (100 = the highest possible importance rating). 

Results: Mean ratings were used to derive the rankings for the 24 qualities/characteristics. The top 10 rankings (1 = most important) revealed the blending of two major roles:  (1) as a competent, confident , practicing RN who communicates effectively, thinks critically, and is passionate about nursing, and (2) as an enthusiastic clinical teacher who is empathetic to students, identifies educational needs and facilitates learning, provides timely feedback, and promotes student autonomy. The assessment of the reliability data (n = 22 subjects) indicated that, at both times (ratings completed 5-7 days apart), eight of the 10 highest ranked qualities/characteristics fell within the 10 most important qualities/characteristics in the original study. Two other means were ranked 11th (one at Time 1 and one at Time 2). 

Conclusion: Awareness and understanding of these rankings can help each stakeholder group in designing strategies to improve preceptor selection and nurture preceptor development: specifically, those involved in selecting preceptors (RNs/preceptors, educators, administrators), and educators (agency and university) responsible for providing preceptor and/or student education and supporting preceptorship within health agencies or educational institutions.