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Preceptorship: How Did I Fall in Love With It?

 By Honoree Ceballos, MBA, BSN, RN, P-PC

      Working as a nurse for the past twenty years in different areas of nursing, there was a question in my mind that I always asked myself each time I started a new job: Why do I always feel like a fish just thrown outside a big ocean? It’s either sink or swim. Why is there no proper structure of training in the nursing profession? Most of the time, you just shadow another experience nurse then after two weeks you’re on your own.

       However, I have memorable training experiences, too. This was when I was starting my profession, got hired as a  graduate nurse in the Philippines, and had received training to become a Critical Care Nurse. As a fresh graduate, I was assigned to one experienced nurse for two months. She trained me with all the skills and proper behaviors of a professional Critical Care Nurse. She was very patient and exuded a positive attitude all the time, in any given work situation. More than that, the whole team of ICU nurses was very supportive. They have influenced me a lot in my nursing career. That was the most precious time for me for having a preceptor and I cannot thank them enough for what I am today as a nurse.

Moving forward, as I moved to United States, training for a new job has always been two weeks. Sometimes, though, co-workers were not very helpful in making it a good learning environment. It was a real struggle. I told myself that I wouldn’t allow any other new nurse to experience it if I was given a chance.

In 2010, my Clinician told me that since I was a proficient nurse, it was mandatory to go to a Preceptor Class and preceptor a new nurse. Without any question I said “yes, no problem”. Then I attended an eight-hour preceptor class and was amazed with the Married State Preceptorship Model. It is the structure of training that I have been looking for in nursing—I just did not know what to call it. It helped me preceptor new nurses and become more excited to teach. I found a perfect opportunity to pay it forward. I have coached and mentored nursing students, nurse residents, and transitioning nurses. I feel more gratification from my nursing profession when I see the nurses that I have preceptored, those I have trained and protected upon their entry into nursing profession. I see them doing things independently and they still come to me for questions, assistance, and mentoring.

Being a preceptor you have the opportunity to play a big role in the socialization process of new nurses, from the perspective of being a professional nurse, and also from a role model perspective. It is a good chance to be the nurse that aspiring nurses would want to imitate. Vinales(2015) discussed how most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling; from observing others, one forms an idea of how new behaviors are performed, and on later occasions this coded information serves as a guide for action.

There will always be new nurses, and in their learning environments they will emulate staff nurses and mentors as role models for their future practice. Preceptorship is a good place to give positive influence to the nursing profession and help in the growth of our future nurses.

Reference: Vinales, J. J. (2015). The mentor as a role model and the importance of belongingness. British Journal of Nursing, 24(10),532-535. doi:10.12968.2015.24.10.532.