E. Kate Valcin, MS, RN, CNL, CCRN-K, NEA-BC
Associate Director of Adult Critical Care Nursing, Strong Memorial Hospital
Why do you choose to precept?
I choose to precept because I love the opportunity to learn and help others learn. My practice is always enriched by being with someone who is seeing my role through a different lens than my own. It’s incredibly energizing to watch the growth of a student across a semester as they implement a project.
I like being challenged by the kinds of questions that the students ask me about my own leadership style, word choices in a particular situation, and hypothetical situations that I know are really drawn from their own experiences.
The benefit for the student of a precepted experience is entry into a world that may be very different than their own.
What advice would you give to clinicians or health care leaders who are considering precepting or new to the mentor role?
My advice to new preceptors is to be open to learning from the student. When I first started precepting, the idea of being 100% transparent was intimidating, I quickly learned that it was an opportunity for true self-reflection and an opportunity for improvement.
For example, I spend a lot of time talking about the importance of self-care as health care workers and leaders. I had an awakening this semester when I was precepting and my student was having to choose which meeting to miss in order to have time to eat lunch. My words said self-care is important, but my actions clearly did not. This was a great opportunity for me to hit the reset button and make sure my words and example were in alignment.
What advice would you give to students?
The advice that I would give students is to be clear about what kind of experience you are looking for. A lot of effort is made by preceptors to facilitate the kind of experiences that meet their orientee’s goals or areas of interest. If you don’t have clarity, you might end up missing out.
I would encourage students to consider an experience outside of their own clinical area.
The opportunity to explore ambulatory if you work inpatient, or a community partner if you work in a hospital-based clinic, etc. is an opportunity to learn not just a different kind of organization, but also something about yourself.
We learn best when we are being stretched in our thinking and what better way to do that than in an precepted experience where you have someone rooting for your success.
E. Kate Valcin has precepted leadership and Clinical Nurse Leader students at the UR School of Nursing over the last five years.