Bridging the gap: from burn preceptor to clinical expert [abstract #323] Abstract uri icon


  • Introduction: Recent growth in the nursing workforce has resulted in a higher percentage of nurses with less than two years of experience, leaving relatively few seasoned nurses available to function as preceptors. This imbalance has created challenges for nursing units that rely on competent, but somewhat inexperienced nurses, to assume the responsibilities of precepting. Little research exists on how to cultivate preceptorship among new nurses using an evidence-based practice model capable of sustaining unit-wide competency. The purpose of this study was to identify the needs of an established Burn Center’s preceptors working to become clinical experts and to better assist their less experienced coworkers. Methods: A needs assessment was performed via an anonymous 12-question survey for nursing preceptors (RNP) and non-preceptors (NP) in the Burn Center. These responses were used to determine the opportunities for improvement for the preceptor program. Survey respondents also had the opportunity to submit write-in specific suggestions. Results: A total of 12 RNP and 23 NP surveys were completed with an overall response rate of 74.1%. Of the NP respondents, 69.6% stated the teaching and instruction of burn-specific cares are “sometimes consistent” between preceptors. Additionally, the NP group rated only 36.4% of the current preceptors’ clinical knowledge as “expert” and merely “average” in 63.3% of responses. The RNP group described themselves as “competent” in 59.1% of responses versus 40.9% being “comfortable” in providing burn specific information to new nurses on orientation. More than half, 58.3%, of the RNP group also felt they were “competent” preceptors and clinical experts in providing education and resources to the inexperienced burn nurse. However, only 50% of the RNP group felt they were able to consistently explain the rationales behind treatments and interventions. Eight respondents submitted write-in suggestions. Four of these stated the need for more burn-specific experience and education. Conclusions: Burn centers present unique challenges for preceptors, especially those who are relatively inexperienced. Our results show the need for preceptors to use a consistent and comprehensive approach to instill competence and confidence in their preceptees. Applicability of Research to Practice: Creating a preceptor program that develops preceptors into clinical experts can improve burn programs. By increasing the clinical expertise of preceptors and the consistency of precepting practices, better burn nursing care will be available to all burn patients.

publication date

  • 2015