It has been said that “in theory, there is no difference between practice and theory. But, in practice, there is.” This quote may best explain the reality shock phenomena found in nursing.
Reality shock is the reaction of new graduate nurses when they discover that the work situation that they have prepared for does not exactly operate within the values and ideals they had anticipated. As a preceptor, understanding and recognizing the phases of reality shock will assist you in helping your preceptee to successfully work through these phases.
fascinated by the newness of the experience
focused on skill mastery and fitting into new role
harness energy and enthusiasm for learning
be realistic, but do not put out their fire
assist in socialization and integration into their new culture
experience frustration with conflicting values/practice
generally become negative
offer support — be a good, nonjudgmental listener
offer objective points of view by acknowledging negative and highlighting the positives
objectively evaluates situations
differentiates between effective/ineffective behavior
assist in seeing the positives
support participation in improving the work environment
understands/accepts role in work environment/culture
conflicts resolved between school/work cultures
assist in use of new coping skills
Helpful Attitudes for Preceptors, Preceptees
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
Conflict is healthy, if it is dealt with directly and creatively.
There are at least two good solutions to every problem. Keep an open mind.
Work that is meaningful is important. What you do everyday is important.
Develop a tolerance for your own uncertainty and conflicts. Be patient with yourself.
Develop interpersonal competency for maximum effectiveness. This is as important as learning to start an IV or transfuse a unit of blood.
Recognize that outside support is sometimes necessary and more than okay. Nursing is a team sport!