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The Perfect Gift For Your Nurse Preceptor
- Student nurses often give small tokens of appreciation to their preceptors, who are staff nurses assigned to mentor them during an internship or preceptorship.
- Nurse preceptors appreciate personalized gifts that show genuine gratitude, such as cards and notes, drinkware, gift cards, gift baskets, and work-related tools.
- Nurse preceptor gifts to avoid include those that are overly expensive, inappropriate, or potentially offensive, such as personal clothing items, political or religious items, and expensive electronics.
PhD, MS, MSN, RN, APRN-BC, CDCES, CCRN
It’s the last day of clinical rotation and your nursing class has decided to bring in donuts for the nursing unit staff as a thank you gift for their help.
You proudly walk into the nursing lounge to place your donut box on the table only to find another box of stale donuts from a previous shift already on the table.
How original? Unimpressive.
Giving a small token of appreciation for nursing staff or an assigned preceptor is absolutely appropriate but knowing what to give is more difficult. Many nursing programs have a final course where a nurse is assigned to a staff nurse during an internship or preceptorship. The staff nurse that is assigned to work with a student is often called a Preceptor.
Let’s take a look at the role of a preceptor and how to appropriately share your appreciation for these vital people in your nursing journey.
What Is a Nursing Preceptor?
Rather than shadow a different nurse for each shift, the student is assigned to one staff RN for a set number of shifts before graduation based on the school’s requirements. The student nurse helps the staff RN with the full patient assignment. The student learns the routine of the floor nurse and helps with all skills from the same preceptor each shift.
The advantages are continuity, comfort, competence, and confidence for the student as both the staff RN and student get to know each other and how to work effectively together.
As the student nurse progresses with each shift completed, the staff RN Preceptor begins to allow the student nurse more responsibility for patient assignments, which further builds confidence for the student nurse. The staff RN generally doesn’t receive any additional compensation for working with a student, but the accomplishment can be noted in a year-end work review. Occasionally it may result in a wage increase.
Many times, it simply ends in a thank you from the unit manager. Taking a student under wing for bedside training has traditionally been part of paying it forward to the next generation of nurses without any compensation. So, a small gift of appreciation from the student nurse is always greatly appreciated.
The Top Nurse Preceptor Gifts
Often, a Google search for nurse preceptor gifts just creates a list of ads and sponsors who pay to have a higher marketing result on a web search rather than truly representing what nurses want. Ultimately getting to know your nurse will reveal what that nurse values and would appreciate more than a paid ad says.
During the preceptorship, pay attention to the food or drink choices, special snacks, conversations about favorite things and hobbies of your nurse for hints.
Here is a list of ideas that can help you be creative as you hope to simply express genuine appreciation for nurses who mentor you:
Nurses love their bags. Even a simple cloth bag with a nurse logo on front that nurses can carry in their items for work is always helpful and appreciated.
Cards and Notes
Store-bought or a handmade card that expresses genuine gratitude is always welcome and should be included with any other gift you are giving. Adding a special note about what you were impressed with or how the nurse inspired you gives an additional personal touch.
Drinkware and Water Bottles
Every nurse needs to stay hydrated during a long shift and having a unique water bottle to easily identify in a crowded nursing lounge is helpful. Specialty mugs for nurses are easy to purchase online or you can even paint or craft a special name or design for your preceptor, which is always a hit.
Give your preceptor a gift with some flexibility, like a Starbucks gift card for their morning coffee run or a gift card to their favorite restaurant for a relaxing day off. Maybe there’s an up-and-coming movie that they’ve been chatting about on their shift. Gift cards don’t have to be expensive. A small gift card goes a long way for showing you care!
Can’t decide on just one gift? Collect a few smaller items a build a customized gift basket. Nurses are always sure to appreciate comfortable socks, coffee or tea, healthy snacks, hand cream, or an inspirational book. Tie it all together with a cute basked and some clear cellophane for a presentation that makes them feel special.
Holiday and Home Décor items
If you are completing a preceptorship near a recognized holiday, themed decorations can be fun and appreciated. Even if the nurse doesn’t take the gifted item home, they may choose to leave it by their locker for a decoration. A novel ornament for Christmas can be customized or easily bought online for nurses. Pillows or blankets for home décor with an EKG pattern for nurses are something nurses always adore.
Why not reward your preceptor with their favorite treats? Some store-bought candies or something from a local vendor is always an appreciated option.
Engraved or Monogrammed
Personalized coffee mugs, travel water bottles and tumblers, keychains, or even a lunchbox, can make a great gift that is unique to your preceptor. Give them something that makes them stand out in the nurse’s lounge!
Penlights, notepads, pens, a stethoscope, ID tag, medical scissors, scented hand-sanitizer, and even knee-high compression socks are gifts a nurse always needs and would appreciate.
Inappropriate Nurse Preceptor Gifts
Although most any gift is more than the nurse already had and didn’t expect, some gifts are inappropriate. Although an expensive gift would be awesome, gifts over $100 may become inappropriate, and are really not necessary. Expensive gifts can be awkward.
Clothing is tricky because of the fine balance between choosing the right size or insulting someone if you guess too large a fit. People tend to be more particular about personal clothing regarding styles, fit, and color. It is also safe to avoid anything religious or political.
There are plenty of other gift ideas without treading into the dangerous waters of clothing or topics that polarize people. A cute puppy dog coffee mug may be the safest choice!
The Bottom Line
Showing gratitude for a preceptor that has gone above and beyond the usual job expectations is absolutely appropriate. Genuine gratitude doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.
Getting to know your preceptor during each shift is free. Showing true effort in customizing a gift of recognition and gratitude is the point—not the cost of the item. We nurses appreciate anyone’s appreciation!
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