The Beaumont, Royal Oak campus is a 1,010-bed tertiary hospital, complete with inpatient and outpatient services in Metro Detroit. While some health systems have struggled to find a systematic process that works to meet the growing demand for clinical rotations, Beaumont has managed to grow their precepting capabilities. Over the last few years, Beaumont Royal Oak has been able to increase capacity for total preceptor and faculty led clinical rotations from 500 students to about 1,800. Because of the high demand for skilled nurse preceptors, Beaumont has taken several measures to develop programs and best practices for preceptor recruitment and retention.
Cheryl Barger, RN, MS, Beaumont Health
Cheryl Barger, RN, MS, is the Clinical Placement Coordinator and Manager at Beaumont Royal Oak. Her goal is to make the precepting process as easy and transparent as possible from start to finish. “If you put too many steps in front of them, they’re less likely to engage” said Barger. The process starts when ACEMAPP, their clinical rotation management software of choice, sends requests for preceptors from nursing schools to Beaumont Royal Oak. Once the requests are received, the clinical placement coordinator sends out a mass email request to nursing staff containing links to their internal web page on precepting. This page, designed about a year ago by Barger and the Education & Research Shared Governance Council, houses documents outlining rules, procedures, and answers to frequently asked questions.
One PowerPoint on the internal website was put together entirely by Beaumont nurses who precepted and includes answers to just about every question they had when they started, and other information that they learned from the experience. There is a dropdown menu of schools that allows nurses to easily look at each institution’s particular requirements. There are even step-by-step instructions on how to use some of the ever-changing technology in case a preceptor would like a refresher on how to use it before training students. Once a nurse has requested to precept, the clinical placement coordinator will check with each nurse’s manager to determine whether the volunteer will be a good fit. From there, the preceptor will simply have to finish his or her requirements, as specified on the web page, and begin precepting at the scheduled times.
Beaumont has introduced several incentives to increase interest in becoming an instructor. Beaumont has a clinical ladder program which aims to promote team members from within the organization. A nurse is commended for becoming a preceptor in their performance evaluations as well as throughout internal communications. Beaumont’s monthly newsletter “The Pine” specifically names and thanks preceptors for their work, as well as the Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) responsible for recruiting them. Additionally, a certificate of appreciation is sent to the nurse’s manager so that the manager can see what their team has accomplished and present the certificate personally. Recently, Beaumont has even started giving nurses Starbucks gift cards as a special ‘thank you’. Nurses who are currently in school often look forward to precepting simply because they can write about the experience in their classes. However, all of these incentives are just a small part of the overall culture of professionalism that Beaumont nurses have created and nurtured over the years.
A glimpse into the nurse preceptor web page available to Beaumont, Royal Oak staff
“Beaumont is a great place to come and learn, its state of the art, progressive, and proactive” said Barger. “There’s a sense of empowerment here, it’s a strong organization that supports nurses at all levels.”
Since launching the web page, nurses have more input to the process than ever and are encouraged to provide feedback which is then used for process improvements. The website being available 24/7 is a huge benefit for nurse preceptors and has even led to some students and preceptors working together on the night shift, as long as the school agrees to have someone available in case of questions or emergency.
All parties involved in the precepting process take a survey after clinical rotations end and the results are then compiled by data technician Dawn Long. If any complaints are made toward the student or toward the staff, they are taken seriously and will be investigated. “This is Beaumont, we are at a higher standard here,” said Barger. “We take it seriously when a student complains because we want them to have a good experience.”
The surveys double as a way to track the names and evaluation scores of students who were precepted at Beaumont. The clinical placement coordinator will give the names of students who receive high scores from their preceptors to the HR department, which will guarantee them an interview if they are to apply later on.
However, the road to streamlined clinical placements has not always been easy. “Every school is different, it’s not easy to fit everyone’s needs into one uniform process,” said Barger. “It can be particularly tricky in cases of faculty turnover or poor communication.” Luckily, the good far outweighs the bad, with Barger commenting “I love to hear that our preceptors are representing us well, nursing needs role models!”
Nurse preceptors are not paid extra for the hours they spend training the next generation of nurses, they do it because they have a passion for it and because the desire to welcome new people is woven into the culture at Beaumont Royal Oak. Barger credits the administration’s long history of support and the talented nurses who work at Beaumont for having such a successful precepting program. Helping students to realize that they are an important and valued part of the team is one of the most important lessons that preceptors teach at Beaumont. “I want students to say ‘I want to be a Beaumont nurse’” commented Barger. And according to the post-clinical rotation surveys, they often do.
Beaumont Royal Oak uses ACEMAPP to manage their clinical rotations. ACEMAPP is a secure, online, clinical rotation matching, student on-boarding, and document storage solution for clinical sites, schools and consortiums. Learn more at acemapp.org.