On Being a Preceptor
By Joann Morgan
I just wanted to thank you for placing me on this committee because being a preceptor is something that I enjoy and feel excited about. I wanted to write to you to tell you how being a preceptor has been a positive experience for me.
I graduated from Nursing School in 1971. So a lot has changed in nursing since then. But the one constant which I feel is the same today as it was then is what happened when, as a new nurse, I looked around me at other nurses for a positive role model. I tried to copy or be like the nurses that really knew their stuff and provided exceptional care. I wanted to be caring, compassionate, confident, make the right decisions, and always do the right thing for my patients. When I entered nursing, I had a quick floor orientation and learned as I went along. I feel that I was fortunate because there were a few experienced nurses on the floor where I started as a new nurse who took me under their wings and told me the best way to do something or how best to tackle a problem. There were not a lot of written guidelines or even resources to help a new nurse grow in her role at that time. I still fondly remember, to this day, two older and experienced nurses that showed me "the ropes".
As we spoke about this in the forum today, I see now how these nurses had what it takes to be a preceptor. No one told them or assigned them to me as my "preceptor". No one even knew that word or its meaning at that time. I believe they precepted me because they loved being nurses. They cared about their patients; but most of all, it was an opportunity to give back to the nursing profession that moved them to help me.
I mentioned in the Forum that I used to be a preceptor on 5 Main. I did not volunteer to be a preceptor I was told I would be a preceptor since it is a job requirement. When I first joined the Float pool a year ago, I would return to 5 Main to work. Nurses that I had oriented four or five years ago would give me a big hug or greet me with a smile and turn to another co-worker and say with pride "she was my preceptor". At first, I was amazed by their praise! I continue to hear about their accomplishments and see how they have grown in their roles as a nurse. At that moment, I felt so proud of them and realized how important it is to be a preceptor. They really appreciated that I provided them with a strong foundation to build upon.
I reflect back and I remember those nurses who helped me as I began my nursing career. This is what being a preceptor is about. It is a never-ending circle of giving and receiving. Sometimes, it was very challenging taking on a brand new nurse--there are so many skills that they lack or have not fine-tuned because of limited clinical hours. A lot of times they have the knowledge but lack the skill or the why? in applying that knowledge. This is where the preceptor comes in to guide and reassure them that they are capable and one day they will be competent and successful. This metamorphosis is amazing to observe.
Being a preceptor has been a rewarding experience for me as I mentioned before. But being a preceptor has also taught me many things about myself and has challenged me to make changes in my practice. I have taught but I also have learned so much from those that I taught and continue to teach. Being a preceptor is like passing the baton in nursing. Experienced nurses gave to me and looked out for me and now I feel it is my turn to do the same.
Nursing needs good preceptors because it has become a very complicated profession. As nurses we wear a lot of different hats in providing care. Nurses may want to precept not for a monetary reward but to continue the "Art Of Nursing". Nursing is a job but it is also a "calling". We have all been new and inexperienced. When that one person comes along who cares and gives us that little push to get over our fear, it makes a huge difference. That person sometimes unknowingly changes our lives by giving back to their profession as a preceptor to those who need them.
I hope that my words will inspire others to become a preceptor. Being a preceptor for those that are new to nursing [or any discipline or profession] or those that are experienced but new to the Baptist Health System can be challenging but also very rewarding. Preceptoring truly is the heart of the nursing profession.
How Ms. Morgan's letter was received:
"We are so close in years of our nursing careers and I can honestly say reading your summary brought tears to my eyes and chills. Your passion shines through the words and what an inspiring message comes from your heart. I thank you for taking the time to put into words the preceptoring experience. You are an asset to the nursing profession and truly you are an ongoing inspiration to so many who follow you, and that is a legacy to be most proud of. I am proud to be your colleague and fellow nurse. You are definitely a role model for preceptoring and I can say without hesitation we are fortunate to have you on the team!"