Recently, someone asked me for tips on how to deal with difficult preceptors. I have previously posted one titled Bad Chemistry: It Is not You; It Is Them.“, but I may not have specifically discussed the strategies of dealing with the difficult preceptors. We will face this type of situation everywhere we go whether at workplace or at school. Again, it is not just you who will run into difficult preceptors. Everyone in your class will have some similar experiences; it is just some people who prefer not to talk about it.
First and foremost, the difficult preceptors surely make our lives miserable. However, they can not affect your overall clinical performance and evaluation. First, change your mentality. They have a purpose in your training. They are in a way, if you think positively to help you tough it up before you go out on your own. Don’t be fearful of them. If you don’t think the relationship between you and your preceptors can get better, talk to your clinical coordinator frankly. You won’t be fault for that. Your clinical coordinator knew who are the difficult preceptors at your current clinical site, so it is really not a big deal to tell him/her the truth. But the key is not to play the blame game. Don’t accuse or complain about your preceptor. Instead, say something neutral. For example, chemistry is not right and for whatever reason you can’t perform well because you get stressed out with that preceptor. You really want to get the most learning out of this rotation, so you would like to request to be put to be with other preceptors. If you are an emotional person, try to practice several times beforehand so you don’t get all teared up. This strategy is an easy way out, so you don’t have to deal with the preceptor.
But if you feel like you are up to challenge, you can talk to the preceptor directly. Sometimes you would be amazed how easy it is to clear up misunderstanding if you talk to them directly. Again, no blame games! Tell your preceptor that you know that chemistry is not right and you want to know if there is something you can do to make it better. Your goal is to learn at this clinical site and ask for what you can do to improve. Most of the preceptors aren’t all that bad. They may have pet peeves and they just want you to do their way.
The two tips have helped me in my clinical training in the past. I hope you will find them helpful as well.