What to Do When Your Preceptor Is a Bully

What to Do When Your Preceptor Is a Bully

After receiving a nursing degree and passing the boards, your first job is very exciting! It usually involves being assigned a preceptor on your unit who will help with additional training and acclimation to the unit. Unfortunately, over the years, there have been increasing reports of preceptor bullying.

While some of these instances are somewhat stereotypical bullying, a preceptor who is absent or avoidant may also be considered a bully. Even when you are a nursing student, you may come across bullying behavior from a preceptor. So, if you find yourself in this situation, what should you do? Talk to someone!

Talk to a Superior

At the first feeling of uneasiness or concern, you should inform someone in a managerial position who may be able to intercede. Often, this is not the first report of a bullying preceptor, and they may decide to reassign you so you won’t have to endure additional negative behavior. However, there are also many situations where the Nurse Manager of the unit is part of the problem and considers this more of a “rite of passage”, which is not acceptable. In that case, consider going to the human resources manager who you worked with in the recruitment or onboarding process, a manager specific to all new graduates at the facility like a Nurse Residency Manager, or another trusted, experienced nurse. If you have exhausted all of these options and still feel uncomfortable, you may want to reconsider your work environment.

Talk to Your Preceptor

Depending on the degree of your preceptor’s behavior, you may want to consider speaking directly to your preceptor. Their response, or lack thereof, may also assist in conversations with a manager. If your preceptor is constantly critiquing you in front of peers or patients, you can ask them to reserve any non-critical feedback for one-on-one, private conversations. If your preceptor continually disappears, you can express your concern and ask them how to reach them in case of an emergency because you have had difficulty locating them. If your preceptor provides vague, negative feedback, you can ask for specific, measurable examples. Sometimes a direct conversation will show this bullying preceptor that you are not going to tolerate their behavior.

Talk to Yourself

You graduated from nursing school and passed the same boards as your preceptor; do not let them make you feel inferior just because you are new. If you’re a nursing student, you are supposed to be learning from others. Everyone starts at the beginning and needs time and training to mature as a nurse. Make sure you give yourself frequent pep talks because you are capable and qualified in your role.

There is no excuse for preceptor bullying, and it is never your fault.

What to do When Your Preceptor is a Bully

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