Travel Nurse Preceptors: Enhancing the Onboarding Experience for New Nurses

by Erin Bofenkamp, MA, BSN, RN, NE-BC and Jenny Palmgren, BSN, RN

Travel Nurse Preceptor

Nursing preceptors play a pivotal role in facilitating the seamless transition of new nurses into their professional roles. Shockingly, statistics indicate that approximately 17% of newly qualified nurses leave their initial positions within the first 12 months (Loughran & Koharchik, 2019). And what’s even more concerning is that a negative experience during this critical period can lead some nurses to leave the nursing profession altogether. The impact of a skilled and supportive preceptor, even from a travel nurse, cannot be overstated; it significantly influences a new employee’s job satisfaction, professional development, confidence, and integration into the unit culture.

The Solution:

Nurse preceptors, typically seasoned and proficient staff members, act as role models and invaluable resources for various categories of new employees, including recent graduates, student nurses, and those new to a facility. They leverage their knowledge and expertise to coach and mentor new staff, fostering their journey toward becoming confident and independent professionals. So in the current healthcare landscape, where burnout, turnover, and low staff engagement are prevalent challenges, leveraging the skills of travel nurses as preceptors can be an innovative and strategic solution.

Why Engaged and Trained Travel Nurses Excel as Preceptors:

  1. Diverse Experience: Travel nurses bring a wealth of experience from working in multiple facilities and navigating various policies and procedures. Their exposure to best practices in the industry positions them as valuable mentors.
  2. Orientation Expertise: Having undergone numerous orientations themselves, travel nurses can distill the most effective elements to create a positive onboarding experience for new staff members.
  3. Preceptor Training: Many Travel RNs have received specialized preceptor training, equipping them with the skills necessary to guide and support their peers effectively.
  4. Incentivized Engagement: Serving as a preceptor offers travel nurses a unique opportunity to take on a new role while earning extra incentives for assisting a facility.
  5. Skillful Teaching: With a proven track record of providing safe and competent care, travel nurses possess excellent teaching skills, helping new staff members develop their professional competence.
  6. Role Modeling: Travel nurses serve as exemplary role models for those entering the industry or transitioning to a new specialty, offering insights and guidance based on their varied experiences.
  7. Patient-Centered Perspective: Exposure to a diverse patient population enables travel nurses to contribute innovative ideas for enhancing patient satisfaction and adopting a family-centered approach.
  8. Adaptability: Recognizing that different individuals have unique learning styles, travel nurses can tailor their approach to cater to specific preceptorship needs.
  9. Effective Communication: Travel nurses excel in communication skills and can assist in honing crucial conversation skills and fostering effective communication within the healthcare team.
  10. Unbiased Perspective: Unfamiliar with the unit’s history or culture, travel nurses bring a fresh perspective, free from biases that could influence new staff members.
  11. Constructive Criticism: With a knack for speaking up and providing respectful constructive criticism, travel nurses contribute to a positive learning environment.
  12. EMR Proficiency: Drawing on their extensive experience, travel nurses excel in electronic health record (EHR) usage, making them invaluable for imparting competency in documentation.
  13. Time Management and Prioritization: Proficient in time management and patient prioritization, travel nurses can instill these critical skills in their mentees.

In conclusion, by tapping into the unique skill set of travel nurses, healthcare facilities can enhance the preceptorship experience, ultimately contributing to improved job satisfaction, retention rates, and the overall well-being of their nursing staff.

References: Loughran, DNP, MHA, RN, M. C., & Koharchik DNP, MSN, RN, L. (2019, May). Ensuring a successful preceptorship : Ajn the American Journal of Nursing. LWW.