Every surgical tech knows what it’s like to have a preceptor. Once you start your clinical rotations as a student you are always assigned a preceptor. When you start a new job or a new specialty you will typically have a preceptor as well. Preceptors give the hands-on training that each tech needs prior to scrubbing solo. This is why it is so important to have a great preceptor and, in turn, be a GREAT preceptor.
My Preceptor Experience
When I was a student not so many years ago, I had my fair share of good preceptors and bad preceptors. I learned from both: what to do and what not to do. One GREAT preceptor stands out the most in my experience. He was very knowledgeable in the field, he was patient, and he knew how to explain things in a way that could be easily understood. He would challenge me on a daily basis with questions about what we were doing and if I didn’t know the answer, he would explain it and the next day he would quiz me on it. This helped me thoroughly understand and remember the information which better prepared me for the case.
To help all techs out there, whether you are the preceptor or “preceptee”, I have compiled a few things to keep in mind when training new or potential coworkers.
- If you don’t like teaching, DON’T do it. This only hurts the student, puts you in a bad mood and is not conducive to the work environment.
- Be nice! You were once new too and did not get where you are now without help. Use constructive criticism, and never criticize the person, just the technique. Build your student up by affirming the positives and giving good feedback.
- Have patience but be firm and strict, especially when it comes to sterility. Everyone learns differently and at different speeds. Ask your student or new hire how they learn best and what they are comfortable with.
- Go over the basic steps of the procedure prior to starting the case. This will get your student or new hire to think and use common sense throughout.
- Most students or new hires learn from hands on experience. Give each individual a chance to jump in and do it. Don’t do everything for them but be there when they NEED you.
- Help the student or new employee understand when and why certain things are done instead of having them memorize steps. It is important to understand why and how a procedure is done so they can learn to better anticipate needs. This will make them a better tech in the long run as they will learn to think on their feet.
- Push their comfort level a little as this will help build confidence and make them use critical thinking skills. Be careful to not push to far: a nudge will do just fine.
- Spend a major amount of time practicing draping.
- Try not to fiddle with the student’s/new employee’s back table. Show them your set up and allow them to take what they can from what they learn and apply it to their needs.
- Don’t be a helicopter tech! Try not to hover unless it is necessary.
I have heard before that the OR eats it young. Let’s not make this a true statement. Be good to each other and help the future of surgical techs succeed today so they can carry on our legacy tomorrow. Thank you for your support and reading my blog. If you enjoyed this or any of my other post, please subscribe!