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Cheryl Boldt, RN, NHA

“How do nurses learn to do nursing?” Gaining nursing experience as a transforming process is marked by more than the passage of time. A nurse must be changed in some way for each experience he or she has for it to be meaningful.

In 1984, Patricia Benner defined a model of skill acquisition in nursing using 5 steps. Each step builds on the previous one as abstract principles are refined and expanded by experience and gains in clinical expertise: Novice, Advanced Beginner, Competent, Proficient, then Expert. Expert Nurses then have the opportunity to become a Preceptor. The Preceptor is a ‘guide by their side’ on the journey to ‘Expert’ status.

While the Novice Nurse is focusing on the mastery of technical aspects of care, the Expert Nurse goes beyond tasks to read and respond to the whole picture. The Novice Nurse is vulnerable and can experience an incredible sense of failure with any mistake. Therefore, the Preceptor is charged with helping the Novice gain confidence while monitoring the work the Novice is doing.

Preceptors are not just nurses with longevity in nursing. Preceptors may indeed be long on experience but cannot be short on knowledge or the skill needed to maintain their credibility and the trust of the Novice Nurse on his or her journey to Expert status. Interaction and Feedback during the learning experience contributes significantly to expertise, so it is important to focus on the exchange of dialogue among nurses and other professionals who cross their path.

Finally, it is imperative we create a culture that embraces proactive Leadership Succession Planning. The time is now to identify and nurture a pool of potential candidates for leadership positions. This need is predictable and there is no reason for chaotic or last minute scrambling to fill these key positions.

Regardless of your role in Healthcare, you contribute to the growth and development of nurses who work with you. In turn, they help shape who you are as a person and professional. Join us as we learn more about the journey each nurse takes on their way to ‘Expert’ Status. On this journey, we will count the number of lives we touch along the way!

By the end of this session, each participant will be able to:
  1. Lead a discussion regarding desired qualities of a ‘Preceptor’
  2. Identify strategies you can implement which would make a positive difference to a Novice Nurse on his or her journey to Expert Status
  3. Tell a story which portrays the difference between a Novice Nurse and an Expert Nurse
This session utilizes lecture, a PowerPoint presentation, handouts, group discussion, humor and individualized action planning.

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