The Professional Development Department at University of Colorado Hospital this month named a dozen nurses as the top preceptors for the first quarter of calendar-year 2016. Preceptors are experienced providers who guide staff nurses new to their professions or to UCH through a 12-week program (and longer for OR nurses). Non-nurses also serve as preceptors in other key clinical areas. The goal: improve the newcomers’ clinical skills and serve as mentors.
First-quarter honorees (to read the full nominations, click here):
Lani Bowler, RN, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, began her career as a new graduate nurse in February 2007. She showed a passion for precepting soon thereafter, wrote Megan Reffel, RN, clinical nurse educator for the NICU, in her nomination. Bowler began working with students and new grads two years after joining the unit and has stayed with it ever since, Reffel said. “As the educator in the NICU, Lani is one of my go-to preceptors. She is kind and welcoming to all members of the staff,” Reffel noted. “Lani does a wonderful job incorporating the NICU culture into her teaching whether it be patient safety, quality improvement or patient and family centered care,” Reffel added. “[She] is truly a model preceptor and we are very lucky to have her as part of our team.”
Karri Hansen, RN, Neurosciences Unit, has taken on the role of preceptor “with incredible positivity and flexibility,” wrote nominator Darcy O’Banion, RN, clinical nurse educator for the unit. “Not only is she a great nurse and preceptor for the Neurosciences Unit, but she has [also] precepted nurses from other departments as well,” O’Banion said. She added that Hansen recently precepted a nurse from another unit and floated to another floor to help a new nurse adjust to the unit. “Her patience, optimism and adaptability are admirable. She successfully adjusts her teaching style to meet the needs of her orientee, and she approaches precepting with a team mentality,” O’Banion noted. Neurosciences Unit Nurse Manager Shelly Limon, RN, called Hansen’s growth “a true joy to watch” and called her “incredibly knowledgeable, patient, calm, and flexible.”
Veronica Hernandez RN, Medicine Specialties Unit, was nominated by Maytham Alshadood, RN, a student nurse doing her senior practicum rotation on the unit. “Veronica was able to provide a safe and rich environment for learning, by encouraging input, independent problem solving, and reflection,” Alshadood said. She described Hernandez as “friendly, approachable and helpful” and open to questions. Hernandez also helped Alshadood expand her skills and knowledge. “She encouraged me to shadow and assist other RNs; she made sure that they involved me whenever there was a chance to learn something new. By doing that, I was exposed to a variety of new cases, beyond the assigned patient load,” Alshadood wrote.
Ella Mathieson, RN, Internal Medicine Unit, “personifies exemplary preceptorship,” said Stephanie Groves, RN, and Kim Olson, RN, the unit’s clinical nurse educator and nurse manager, respectively. An orientee of Mathieson’s described her as “calm, and always easy to approach,” adding that “she somehow explains things in a way that I can understand despite having a few other people try to explain it as well.” Groves and Olson noted that Mathieson has strong support from the unit’s leadership team because of her confidence and ability to use her resources efficiently. “Ella is a resource for everyone about everything,” they concluded.
Kimberly Traylor, RN, Outpatient Perioperative Services, is a primary preceptor and willingly performs the role, said Gabrielle Ingalsbe, RN, clinical nurse educator. In the words of an outpatient OR charge nurse, Traylor “is very nurturing to these RNs but also knows when she needs to push them to practice on their own.” Ingalsbe described Traylor as “a fierce patient advocate [who] fosters this same attitude in those she precepts.” Traylor works patiently with preceptees, Ingalsbe added, and works hard to establish a bond with them. “The work she has done with our new grad RNs has been tremendous and we are so lucky to have her on our team,” Ingalsbe said.
Cardiac Intensive Care Unit nominations submitted by Sara Knippa, RN, clinical nurse specialist and educator:
Darryl Evertsen, RN, “practices a special blend of the science and the art of nursing, and imparts his patient-centered perspective to everyone he precepts,” Knippa observed. A nurse for more than 30 years, Evertsen’s knowledge, experience and talent for connecting with patients are “well respected on the unit and make him an excellent preceptor,” she added. One nurse resident noted, “When I found out that my preceptor for the day was going to be Darryl I knew it was going to be a great day. I noticed how he communicated with patients, their families and other nurses and told myself, I want to be like that nurse.”
Allan Margarico, RN, has earned a reputation as an outstanding preceptor for new grads, nurse orientees and many others who work with him, Knippa said. “He is known for impromptu midnight teaching sessions and breaking down complex concepts,” she added. A new grad said of Margarico, “Allan’s leadership, effective feedback, knowledge base, and enthusiasm for critical care nursing make him an outstanding teacher.”
Outpatient Infusion Center nominations submitted by Katy Ament, RN, clinical coordinator:
Didi Robertson, RN, and Kari Freed, RN, are “fantastic preceptors,” Ament wrote. The two were “instrumental” in helping new grads to hone their IV skills, Ament added. For the past two years, Robertson and Freed have mentored at least one new grad a week. “Their patience, kindness, expertise, and coaching provide the optimal environment in which new nurses can learn these crucial skills,” Ament said.
Pulmonary Unit nominations submitted by Brittany Cyriacks, RN, clinical nurse educator:
Nikki Chilimindris, RN, “has been a huge mentor and resource for the Pulmonary Unit as we have hired on many new staff,” Cyriacks noted. Orientees praise Chilimindris for her “attention to the patient, not just the task,” Cyriacks wrote. “She is able to calm a patient and address their needs even when there is a lot going on.” Chilimindris is calm, approachable and works well with different personalities, Cyriacks said, and has “set a high standard for all new staff to live up to.”
Sadie Miller, RN, has a strong desire to teach and does so “exceptionally well,” Cyriacks said. “Sadie is a preceptor that everyone finds approachable, knowledgeable and a strong resource to use even after orientation,” Cyriacks added. One orientee called Miller “unbelievably helpful during my orientation and she continues to be of assistance for me and her colleagues on the floor. She is always willing to help others when she has down time, she answers the unit phone when available, and she also answers call lights promptly when the CNA and RN are busy.” Miller has “helped mold exceptional RNs for our unit because they want to model her high expectations for herself and her peers,” Cyriacks concluded.
Julian Cavazos, RN, was a new grad and has gone on to excel in his role as a preceptor for others following in his footsteps, Cyriacks said. “He is very approachable, can handle anything, is flexible, and most of all very nice to be around,” she added. A preceptee called Cavazos knowledgeable and able to provide resources if he does not know the answer to a question. “He gave me as much independence as he felt safe, which helped me adjust to being out of nursing school and into my new career, as well as preparing me for being on my own once I was off orientation,” the preceptee wrote. “Julian is a strong addition to our preceptor team as every nurse he precepts receives valuable and well thought out feedback,” Cyriacks added.