APD Preceptor Program: Teaching Teachers to Welcome and Train New Hires

Preceptor class

A group of employees from departments across campus gathered recently for APD’s Preceptor Program, a three-hour training with Amanda Fay, MSN, RN, WCC. A preceptor, said Fay, is anyone who welcomes and introduces new employees to their department, teaches them the skills they need, and introduces them to the culture of APD as a whole.

“Anyone can be a preceptor,” said Fay. “You might be a formal preceptor who trains new employees, or you might be an informal ambassador. Either way, you bring everything the organization represents to the new person.”

Fay says preceptors have a huge influence on the experience of new hires and in setting the tone of an organization as a whole.

“Your impact starts with your very first interaction with a new employee. Ask yourself who you want to be as a preceptor. What do you want to give people? What legacy do you want to create? We all create our environment and this process begins with preceptors.”

Participants listed leader qualities that, in their experience, contributed to the best working and learning environment: “approachable,” “organized,” “self-aware,” “sense of humor,” to name a few. High on the list was a preceptor’s ability to be non-judgmental.

“While new employees bring lived experience and skills, they still have much to learn,” said Fay. “We need to find the key to how they learn and teach them with kindness and compassion.”

In that spirit, Fay modeled three steps for offering feedback in a way that best supports development:

  1. Get the learner’s assessment. “What didn’t go as well as you hoped?”
  2. Give your assessment of the learner’s performance. “I noticed…”
  3. Plan together how the learner can grow. “If there was one thing that you would target for immediate action, what would it be?”

Always, Fay emphasized, show gentleness, curiosity, and respect. “When people are feeling defensive, you can help them relax and draw out their own learnings from how something went. That’s when learning and growth can happen.”

“The preceptor IS the learning environment. We create it. Every moment is a choice, and we choose who we want to be.”