I wrote Letter to a New Preceptee back in 2007. It holds true to this day.
You are probably excited and apprehensive about starting your preceptorship. I know I was many years ago when it was my turn. I wondered whether I would make it – whether I was cut out for this job, whether I had spent so much time and effort studying only to fail, to have to hang my head and admit I wasn’t cut out for the job.
Do not worry. I know you. You are smart and enthusiastic. I like that. You will pass. Precepting with me will not be a rigid test where you are constantly at risk of having a trap door open beneath you, sending you spiraling out of the profession you have studied so hard to join. If you fall down, I will pick you up. If you forget something during a call, we’ll talk about it later. If you miss an IV or a tube, no big deal, you’ll get more chances. My only expectations are that you care about being a good paramedic, and that you’ll do your best, which if you do, will be good enough.
Here’s what I want to see:
I want you to always introduce yourself to your patient by name.
If there are first responders on the scene, I want you to look them in the eye and hear their report, and then thank them. This goes for nurses and bystanders as well.
I don’t want to you to cop an attitude with anyone.
I want you to see that the patient is comfortable as can be, and reassured that you are there to help them.
I want you to explain to them what you are doing and why.
I want you to ask questions after the call, anything you didn’t understand or were curious about.
Here’s what I’ll do for you:
I will never badmouth you. If anyone asks how you are doing, I will say great.
I will be honest with you and if I don’t know the answer, I will look it up or seek someone who knows.
If I am tired or in a bad mood, if I ever take it out on you, I will apologize to you.
I will do my best to make it a fun, learning experience for you.
Precepting should be a buffer period between class and the real world, a chance for you to learn and grow and gain some measure of comfort before having to deal with the job on your own.
I am looking forward to precepting you. Precepting is a privilege not only for you, but for me, the preceptor. When I have a preceptee I can look again at this job I love with fresh eyes. I may learn things that I have forgotten as well as lessons I may have missed along the way.
Let’s have a good time and do some good.