Preceptoring an International Nurse Who Is New to Nova Scotia

I am going to be orientating and supporting an international nurse who is new to Nova Scotia. As a preceptor, what should I consider?

A preceptor is a nurse who teaches, counsels, and serves as a role model and supports the growth and development of a nurse in a particular discipline for a limited time, with the specific purpose of socializing the novice nurse in a new role. Preceptors fill the same role as mentors but for a more limited time frame.

A mentor is a nurse who guides, counsels and/or teaches nurse learners (mentees) in their adjustment to new environments, roles and/or responsibilities.

Nurses newly licensed and new to Nova Scotia (NS) have unique needs and require time as they transition to their role, responsibilities and accountability within their practice context and Nova Scotia‚Äôs health care system. Supportive practice environments and comprehensive orientation programs are essential for the new nurses to feel welcome, safe, valued, respected, and nurtured to provide safe, competent, and ethical health care. All nurses have an accountability to provide leadership and mentorship to support learners, peers and other health care professionals.

Nurses new to and working in NS are accountable to practice in accordance with the professional scope of practice for their designation, their individual competence, the standards of practice, the code of ethics and within the conditions and restrictions applied to their license.

International nurses who have obtained a conditional license will have conditions and restrictions applied to their license. The conditions and restrictions are in place as a safeguard intended to allow time for the nurse to become oriented to the NS health care system and support the nurse in their transition. It is important you are familiar with these conditions and restrictions and support the nurse to work within these.

Your accountabilities as a preceptor are to:
  • Recognize the unique needs of nurses new to NS and the health care system.
  • Support the nurse by sharing your knowledge and expertise.
  • Contribute to a safe and open environment where the nurse feels comfortable asking questions to seek clarification.
  • Act as a role model by demonstrating professional behaviours and attitudes.
  • Contribute to the development of quality practice environments where mutual respect and trust exist.
  • Identify any support or ongoing education that you may require in your role.
  • Identify any professional practice issues and develop a plan to address them in collaboration with the nurse(s) and your manager.

International nurses who are new to NS will bring with them unique professional practice experiences. They may require support to adjust to the Canadian context of practice as they adjust to their new professional and personal roles.

Consider engaging in the following actions as you support the nurse during the orientation period:
  • Assess their learning needs and provide opportunities for learning.
  • Identify and advocate for clinical experiences that the nurse can build their competencies, confidence and apply their knowledge and skills, including leadership and collaboration.
  • Create an opportunity for the nurse to meet with colleagues and other health care professionals and to understand the role of members of the team in an interprofessional environment when meeting the needs of the clients.
  • Create opportunities and the space for openness and vulnerability to provide and receive constructive feedback.
  • Provide regular check-ins with the nurse to identify any further support that may be required.
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