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How do I deal with a preceptee with poor bedside manners?

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You’re orienting a new nurse who just can’t seem to click with any family she is taking care of, her patients are complaining about her care and you notice the abrasive tone that she takes when she speaks to patients. What do you do?

It takes a unique type of person to be a nurse—a person who is compassionate, patient and unselfish. A note to new nurses: If you can’t assign these adjectives to yourself quite yet, it doesn’t mean that you won’t make a great nurse, but having these traits will make high-quality bedside manner come very naturally.

Nursing is a profession of detail-oriented, skill-specific tasks that we must learn and master, combined with having an innate demeanor with patients that is hard to learn. Everyone has a bad day sometimes, but if you find that your preceptee is unable to relate to her patients and treat them respectfully on a regular basis, you may want to question whether she will be a good fit for your unit.

To give your preceptee the benefit of the doubt, make suggestions as to how she can improve her bedside manner, perhaps by incorporating the families more in care or by setting time aside to actively listen to patients’ concerns. Her lack of tact may be stemming from lack of experience and lack of confidence, or it could be just in her nature. I would perhaps also suggest that the nurse orient with somebody else so there is a fair second or third opinion that would be helpful in deciding what the root of the problem may be.

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Nicole Lehr

Nicole Lehr is a pediatric nurse. She can be described in three adjectives: content, thankful and fortunate. All credit for the aforementioned description can be given to the love she has for her profession as an RN. She graduated from University of Florida with her Bachelor’s in Nursing and moved to Atlanta to work at the Cardiac Stepdown Unit at Children’s — her dream job.

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