Preceptors: The tremendous value of those who teach

August 17, 2015 | (17) Comments

“The best companies in the world are those that have outstanding frontline leadership.”

That’s no. 10 of my Maxims of Leadership, and it is evidenced every single day at Texas Children’s. Our organization, which is innovating and growing at such an amazing pace, is propelled by our people. Our incredible staff and employees are why we are one of the best organizations in the world. Recently, when I had an opportunity to visit with our Emergency Center preceptors, I enjoyed being reminded yet again just how true Maxim no. 10 is.

By definition, a preceptor is a teacher responsible for upholding a certain law or tradition – a precept. Our preceptors throughout the organization are the nurses who train new nurses to care for our patients, upholding our high standard of care. Just in the EC, our preceptors have trained 47 nurses and eight emergency medical technicians (EMTs) since October 1 – 13,900 hours spent training and teaching in less than a year. Across the organization, we’ve had about 1,100 clinical orientees since October 1 who’ve received more than 280,000 hours of training. As you can see, our preceptors are making an awesome contribution.

Our preceptors in units throughout Texas Children’s impart wisdom and practices that can’t be found in textbooks or taught in a classroom. They nurture our culture and create a sense of warmth, security and family for nurses who are just starting out and getting a foothold in their careers. This instills confidence and inspires excellence, helping ensure that our new nurses transition more seamlessly into our organization.

Essentially, like all good teachers, preceptors give their “students” a model to which to aspire. And the really great teachers know something else that’s just as important – they know when and how to give their students the space to grow and demonstrate just how much and how well they’ve learned. Actually, I like the way Carrie Stocker puts it. Carrie is a nurse who joined us a few months ago and recently completed orientation with three awesome preceptors. She explains it like this:

Preceptors must master the art of dancing. My preceptors knew when to lead and when to follow. The best dance partners know each other and each other’s movements really well so they can make adjustments in the moment. My preceptors’ constant adjustment from leading to following ensured for my maximum growth. By providing a gradual release of responsibility, my preceptors first took the lead and then smoothly and confidently allowed me to take the reins. They had equipped me quickly with the skills I needed to be able to dance with the stars here at TCH!  

Well said Carrie. There is absolutely an art to leading and following and knowing when to do which.

The time that our preceptors spend teaching and molding new nurses fortifies the organization in immeasurable, yet very tangible ways. And quite honestly, that’s true of every single person here – clinical and non-clinical – who takes the time to help teach a colleague a new skill or a better or more efficient practice. As Texas Children’s continues to grow at such a staggering rate, we rely on everyone’s willingness to do that. And I get it – some days, that’s hard. Our patient volume is growing, we have more patients with higher acuity, and we feel that across the organization. Daily, we balance that with training and teaching all the new Texas Children’s staff and employees we are aggressively onboarding to help us care for all of those precious patients. All told, our workforce of 10,000 will grow to 15,000 in three years – yes, 50 percent.

But the way I see it, this growth in volume and workforce is an amazing opportunity to serve our mission. The reason we are blessed with all of you – staff and employees who are hands down the very best at what you do – is because we are meant to use every person and every gift we have to fulfill our mission. We are meant to mold others and to advance care. We are meant to heal children and women for years to come. That’s why it’s so very important to share our gifts and inspire our people. It’s what we’ve always done, and it’s why we’re one of the best organizations in the world.

17 Responses to “Preceptors: The tremendous value of those who teach”

  1. Linda Younger

    I love the reference to dancing and it seems so appropriate to use that analogy since “Life’s a dance we learn as we go…Sometimes we lead, sometimes we follow” are words from one of my favorite Garth Brooks songs and we are so fortunate to have him as a huge supporter of TCH. It’s such an honor and a privilige to be part of such an awesome team.

  2. Richard A. Ridge, RN, PhD

    Thank you Mr. Wallace for the shout out to preceptors. As we continue with our growth in volume and in workforce at Texas Children’s, in all departments, we will only be as strong as our preceptors. Pat Benner, the noted Nurse Scientist who brought us “From Novice to Expert”, echoes your sentiment towards preceptors and the link to leadership. Preceptors guide others at every transition along the way from novice to expert, and they are one of the most important linchpins in keeping the TCH culture as we achieve our tremendous growth. Thank you to all the preceptors for your caring, patience and expertise.

  3. Corrie Chumpitazi M.D.

    Our EC nurses are amazing- over 14000 hours teaching this year along with hundreds more as many spend time teaching pediatric advanced life support (PALS) and assisting with simulation sessions for our residents and fellows. Thank you for all you do. You make the stresses of the unpredictable ER environment inviting for the patients and their families while providing top notch evidence-based care. There’s no place I’d rather work!!

  4. Roxanne Vara, MBA, BSN, RN

    Thank you Mr. Wallace for taking time to recognize the importance of those that teach and mold the careers for our new staff here at TCH. Our preceptors play such an important role in sustaining our culture. I am so proud of our Emergency Center staff and appreciate their efforts and contributions towards our new workforce.

  5. Davida L. Chatman

    Being a ER nurse is a badge of honor. Joining the TCH ER was a career accomplishment. I am proud that the opportunity to interact with Mr. Wallace was offered. It re-energized the team and validated the importance of continued development in all areas of the TCH family. Thanks Mr. Wallace for the impact you made on our team.

  6. Delinda Castillo, BSN, RN

    Mr. Wallace,
    Thank you for your recognition of our valued preceptors! The Newborn Center continues to grow and our preceptors are tirelessly teaching. Your reinforcement of their worth is a reminder that they are making a difference and contributing to fulfill our Mission.

  7. Leslie Morris

    I believe in your leadership maxim that states, “Leadership is vision + structure + people, with people by far being the most important element” which applies to our preceptors across the organization. I also believe two other important things: 1) Education is the one thing that no one can take away from you and 2) Knowledge shared is knowledge learned.
    It is a gift to be able to teach and a precious opportunity to gain wisdom from others. Our preceptors see the value in growing, learning, and leading as well as, are dedicated to making outcomes and the organization better!
    Thank you to all preceptors for all you do, you make a difference.
    Mr. Wallace, thanks for your support! #PerfectAndImproving

  8. Manish Shah, MD

    Our Emergency Center preceptors are amazing teachers who model excellence in providing compassionate and effective care to our patients. They have taught me so many things over the past 11 years, and I know they appreciated the opportunity to be encouraged and recognized for all that they do.

  9. Jennifer Tu

    Thank you so much for being such an inspiration and leading by example. I am honored to say I work at TCH in the EC and meeting you just re-established why I wanted to be an employee at TCH.

  10. Nicole Davis Sumlin, BSN RN

    Thank you so much Mr. Wallace for being such a unique & caring person, President, and CEO! Your leadership is definitely one of the reasons TCH is one of the best companies in the world! Thank you for inspiring our ER preceptors & leadership team. Your powerful positive impact will never be forgotten!!

  11. Paul Sirbaugh

    I’m constantly amazed at how patient, talented and compassionate all levels of our emergency center nursing staff are. While there is a lot of experience in the EC, there is also a lot of enthusiastic young staff and for that reason, having the right preceptors are essential. Luckily for us, we have some of THE BEST in the hospital. Thank you Mr. Wallace for always recognizing and supporting our talent.

  12. Gail Parazynski

    Thank you Mr. Wallace for making the Emergency Center Preceptor Event simply amazing! Our preceptors teach not only skills but the TCH culture. We are so very lucky to have such a great team.

  13. Kellie Nolen, RN

    Speaking about my orientation experience and how many of the staff nurses in the Emergency Department greatly impacted my transition into practice was one of the best days I have ever had at TCH! I am so lucky to work at an institution that cares about every single employee from top to bottom. Thank you to Mr. Wallace for taking the time to spend the day with the most amazing TEAM at Texas Children’s Hospital! Talking to Mr. Wallace, was so inspiring; you can’t help but leave fulfilled and inspired.

    Working in the ER at Texas Childrens is the BEST JOB in the world, and this is not an exaggeration.

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