Now in its fourth year, the Preceptor Recognition Program recognizes clinical preceptors whose leadership and mentoring skills stand out. In 2019, the AARC presented 39 members with this distinction. Nominations for the 2020 program must be completed by a director of clinical education or a program director.
We understand preceptor and education opportunities have been limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to this, the likelihood that the preceptor had the opportunity to log 120 hours with students has been dramatically reduced. Taking this into account, the AARC has decided to waive this requirement for this year’s preceptor awards.
AARC Members Shellie Moore, M.Ed., RRT, RRT-NPS and Georgianna Sergakis, PhD, RRT, FAARC share their thoughts on the vital role preceptors have in student success. They’ll also discuss the importance of recognizing preceptors for their commitment and contributions to the profession.
Leading the future
“[Preceptors] are at the forefront where respiratory students, classroom fundamentals, and the patient’s breath meet,” Moore said.
“To put it simply, RTs would not become the clinicians that they need to be without the dedication and commitment of preceptors,” Sergakis said. “In RT education, the preceptor is integral for students to learn to become proficient in respiratory care.”
In Sergakis’ program, the preceptors function as leaders, starting in a group approach and moving to a one-on-one apprenticeship-type model.
“As an RT program, we rely on these preceptors to uphold the high expectations we have of our students,” Sergakis said. “Preceptors are the very important link between the RT educational program and the clinical site.”
Moore, who helped design the recognition program, felt it was important to find a way to “let every preceptor know how much they are appreciated and so very important to every student’s growth.” To Moore, the clinical moments preceptors provide are critical for developing student application and understanding.
“In the midst of long shifts, patient overload, multiple codes, other departmental tasks, preceptors still make time to help students bring their new-found knowledge to life,” Moore said. “I wanted preceptors to know how deeply they impact the future of our profession.”
She hopes that through this formal acknowledgment, preceptors will feel pride knowing that the AARC, an international organization, recognizes all of their efforts and daily commitment to respiratory students.
“I believe the AARC Preceptor Recognition Program is one way to represent a preceptor’s ongoing dedication to the growth and professional development of the respiratory therapists of the future,” Moore said.
More than saving lives
Moore believes respiratory therapists innately want to help and make a difference in the lives of others.
“That’s why we all entered the profession in the first place,” Moore said. “But what we didn’t know is that we as RTs do more than save lives through the act of breathing; we also influence lives through breath!”
It is through daily connections—with patients, family members, health care colleagues and more—that RTs “metaphorically have the ability to breathe life into every person with whom” they interact with, according to Moore.
“An RT preceptor who takes just moments to guide a student to help them understand a patient’s underlying causes of respiratory distress–and many other countless concepts–breathes life into that student’s ability to apply cognitively, affectively, and professionally,” Moore said. “As a result, those moments between preceptor and student directly impact the ability of the respiratory profession to grow–in strength, in science, and in professionalism.”
Moore feels that the recipients of this award are unassuming and deserving respiratory therapists and the future of respiratory therapy.
Furthering the profession
According to Sergakis, preceptors help assist in the orientation, competency assessment and training of staff. For example, a preceptor may train other employees about a new therapy or protocol.
“Respiratory therapy is such an evolving profession. We are continually adding more skills and therapies to our scope,” Sergakis said. “The preceptor is vital to the dissemination and quality with which we use all of this information.”
The Preceptor Recognition Program is a great way to recognize and reward this commitment to professional training.
“These folks often engage in precepting out of the goodness of their heart, without extra pay or fame,” Sergakis said. “These are the dedicated professionals that elevate us all as RTs in their own departments. They are contributing to RT development because it is the right thing to do, because they enjoy their careers as RTs, and because they are models for all of respiratory therapy.”
Our 2020 recognized preceptors are set to be announced in August. Their recognition will run August 1, 2020 through July 31, 2021.