Tuesday, June 25, 2013


New nurses begin orientation with some excitement yet a lot of apprehension. You finally get to take care of patients without getting everything okayed by your instructor!! Yay!!  However, many nurses are apprehensive and ask themselves questions like, “Will I make it? Am I good enough? Was I meant to be a nurse? Will I have a good preceptor or a bad one? Will I fit in? Will I be successful or not?” This internal conversation can sometimes cause unnecessary added stress on new nurses. After all, we know that some nurses don't have a successful orientation.
To stop the negative dialogue about making it and begin orientation fully prepared to succeed, you need to understand that… your success depends on the quality of feedback you receive throughout orientation.

The power of feedback
If you analyze the behaviors of successful people, one thing they have in common is that they frequently ask for feedback AND are open to receiving it – even the bad stuff. Why? Because as humans, it’s hard for us to be objective and critically analyze ourselves. Successful people recognize this and ask for feedback from others in an attempt to see themselves through other people’s eyes.
Think about it - if all you hear are the good things about yourself, you’re never going to learn and grow. It’s through recognizing your areas of weakness and dedicating time to improve them that you can succeed.
How to ask for feedback:
In my business, I teach preceptors how to deliver feedback because giving new nurses feedback is critical for new nurse success. However, if you have a preceptor who rarely gives feedback or worse yet, doesn’t give any feedback at all (that’s terrible!!), you’ll need to ask for it.
At the end of every shift, ask these two questions:
1.   What did I do well today?
2.   What do I need to work on to improve?
That’s it. Two very simple questions but they could change your practice. Those things that you did well, you want to keep doing! Those things that you need to work on…you need to work on and then ask specific questions about your progress.
Remember, you are responsible for YOUR orientation. If you’re not getting what you need from your preceptor, ask for it in a professional manner. A successful orientation is a partnership – you and your preceptor should both take an active role.
Thanks so much for choosing to become a nurse! I’m cheering for your success.
Take care and stay connected!

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  1. That's a great point, Renee! Orientation is such an important time. You get an inside look at how experienced nurses go about their day. WHen you're on your own, you won't have such a luxury anymore. Learn as much as you can, and these questions will help you.

    Kevin, RN

  2. Thanks Kevin. I also teach preceptors how to give feedback to new nurses - good and bad. However, the most common complaint I hear from new nurses is that their preceptor doesn't give ANY feedback. My response is always the same - if you're not getting feedback, ask for it. Your success depends on it!