I have a sneaky suspicion, rather I should say I have a witnessed account of the total lack if preceptorship offered to a new nurse educator hired for a well-known well established nursing program. I digress, its not the program itself that is of focus, its the collective atmosphere of the new nursing educator that I am a disappointed witness.
It is really eye opening and to me a tell-tale sign of how far nursing has come yet how far it hasn't. When I started out as a new bedside nurse I chose my employer because of a new nurse graduate odyssey program (residency) that lasted a year and prepared me for the ICU's. For educators, is the assumption that nurses who are not new nurses but are transitioning to education roles supposed to have it all together?
Is this the equivalent of "throwing them to the wolves?" Are academic institutions regardless of their degree conferring capabilities neglecting the appropriate investment into our most significant contributors? In my observation clinical instructions sometimes function as the "travelers" of academia and there appears to be little-to-some start-up effort in their success but little maintenance to ensure their continued competence and advancement. At any rate educate me, give me feedback, any similar experiences?
Asking for a friend.
I've taught as a full-time faculty member in an ADN program (fresh out of grad school) and in a BSN program, and, in both cases, I had access to people I could consult with for any questions I had and got a lot of general support but, apart from the basic "new employee" orientation, no formal "precepting." I was expected to be a self-directed learner and ask for help or advice when I needed or wanted it. I was fine with that.
"Asking for a friend"? Really?
I was mentored, but not precepted.
I teach clinical only and I got to
shadow another clinical instructor for one day. I was able to ask the clinical director from my school any questions.
I was mentored from a 'distance'...with little contact with my mentor. I was never precepted.
Nurse educator positions should be going to nurses with not just formal education but also significant clinical experience. It is a position designed for nurses who are ready to teach others; not those who need instruction themselves. I see the need for direction and help in regards to the organization and methods of teaching, but those entering this role should indeed "have it all together" when it comes to their chosen field of education.
Our program gives you a preceptor partner for one year. This is great support for new faculty and clinical faculty transitioning to full time teaching on campus. I usually precept new nurse faculty every year I am asked. My chair of nursing tells me I am supportive without being a "mother hen". My reward is a working and supportive team of nurse faculty at our campus. This mentorship helps us decrease turn over and improves our overall teaching strengths. Our motto is we refuse to "eat our nursing young"
Having done academic teaching on and off throughout my career, I have usually been disappointed in the schools lack of understanding about role transitions myself. Yes, faculty members should be "self-directed" and generally experienced. But any time a person transitions from one role to another and/or from one employer to another, there is a need for some support. If you read the Chronicle of Higher Education, you see many articles about the need for new faculty members (in all disciplines) to be mentored in their new jobs. In my experience, many nursing schools have failed to catch on to that fact yet.
New faculty needs are not identical to new grad staff nurse needs -- but there are needs.
I had been an ICU nurse for 15 years when I applied for a clinical teaching position. As an expert in ICU I felt comfortable passing on my knowledge to others but knew there would be a steep learning curve associated with the change. The BSN program I went to work for as an adjunct was supportive and they suggested I made sure I shadowed a nurse on the floor we were going to but they assumed that I had no other needs. Sure I was intimidated but as a surgical ICU nurse I was well aware of the grilling that surgical residents got each day from attendings so I thought, 'Hey, I can start off by treating nursing students like surgical residents until I get more experience and become comfortable with the process". Fortunately for me it worked out; I became more comfortable with initiating dialogues with students, I networked and gained the trust of nursing staff around me and I talked with other instructors about what to do during lulls in activity. I now consider my self an expert to some degree with teaching students how to think. Our school now has 2 paid nurses who are available for support of all kinds in the clinical role.
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