Preceptor Preparation Online Course - Advanced

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Essential Competencies of Preceptors: A Focus on Working with APRN Students

Module 4: Facilitating Critical Thinking and Clinical Decision-Making

Role Modeling

Nurses talking

Preceptors are perceived as a role model by the student as they work collaboratively. These perceptions may impact the student's learning. Role modeling relates not only to how the student and preceptor interact, but also how the preceptor interacts with other disciplines and patients.

  • Some degree of scaffolding may need to occur (i.e. performing some aspects of a task) to model best practices for the student (Collins et al, 1991).
  • The preceptor role models how to prioritize patient care but also provides an example of optimal critical thinking.
  • Ongoing discussion and feedback about the student's perceptions and clarification of goals of learning should be performed.

Communication and delegation are two key professional competencies that can be facilitated through role modeling, and are closely associated with effective clinical decision making. APRN students learn content related to care coordination and organization in educational courses, but clinical application is essential to developing "how" to organize, prioritize, and delegate.

A specific example related to communication is change of shift report. The preceptor can encourage the APRN student to observe change of shift report over several shift changes, and then have the student practice giving report to the preceptor. During the rehearsal, it is important for the preceptor to ask the types of questions that the student should anticipate from colleagues, especially related to updates in the patient's status, changes in condition, and rationales for modifications in the treatment plan. This type of activity promotes critical thinking as it focuses on the importance of the "whys" of the patient's management. Again, these types of experiences promote confidence that is closely associated with critical thinking.

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