1. Section Editor(s): Modic, Mary Beth MSN, RN
  2. Schoessler, Mary EdD, RN

Article Content

What do you imagine when you think of the word orange? Many of you will immediately think of a piece of fruit, pumpkin, or sherbet. Still in the food domain, cheese, Doritos, or carrots may quickly come to mind. Others may contemplate marigolds, tulips, or zinnias. Still, others may consider goldfish, Irish setters, or monarch butterflies. None will probably consider the word revolution. However, Gostick and Elton (2010), in their clever and engaging book, The Orange Revolution, do just that.


These authors have written a series of books using the carrot as a metaphor for identifying creative, energetic, and productive teams. Their latest book offers insights on the importance of recognition and strategies that can be used to celebrate colleagues' contributions.


As preceptors and educators, we work diligently to ensure that nurses new to our organizations feel welcomed and are provided with optimal clinical learning opportunities. In addition, we are continually assessing their competence and areas for continued refinement. Precepting is important and demanding work. Although many of us serve as preceptors because of altruism and our desire to "give back or pay forward," we also want employing organizations and agencies to value our contributions and to honor our work.


Gostick and Elton (2010) conducted a survey of more than 5,000 employees and discovered that over half of the respondents reported that it had been at least 6 months since the manager had provided some recognition; a third of the attendees stated that it had been longer than a year since the manager or supervisor had expressed appreciation for their contributions.


Alspach (2003) queried readers of Critical Care Nurse about rewards and recognition used at the facilities at which they worked. The survey response was small (n = 80). Monetary compensation or opportunities for clinical advancement were the most frequently cited means of reward. The third most frequently cited incentive was "some token of recognition that reflects the prestige of the preceptor role" (Alspach, 2003, p. 16). Yonge, Hagler, Cox, and Drefs (2008) reported on a survey of 86 preceptors and suggested that formal rewards or recognition programs are necessary if the preceptor role is "going to be developed beyond its status as an informal and voluntary resource" (p. 116).


It is easy to get discouraged when we read such research. How is that we return to work day after day caring for critically ill patients, managing technologically complex environments, acknowledging the anxieties and fears of families, and orienting new nurses? We are pulled back to work because the recognition comes from patients and from colleagues. Peer-to-peer recognition is one of the most powerful satisfiers because it comes from those who are just like us, who are doing similar work. Our colleagues know the intricacies of the obstacles that we encounter daily. An affirmation of our contribution by them is tremendous.


The difference between the words reward and recognize may be subtle but worth noting. According to the Oxford English Dictionary (n.d.), the word reward means "to regard, heed, to pay attention to, to repay." The word recognize is defined as "to accept the authority, validity or legitimacy of; to acknowledge, consider, or accept (a person or thing) as or to be something."


Although it is important to be adequately compensated for work rendered, Gostik and Elton are on to something with their orange revolution idea. Rather than wait for clinical leaders or managers to offer recognition, let us not waste any more time; let us begin recognizing our peers ourselves. The simplest and easiest way is to express verbal gratitude to a colleague who helped you: "Thank you for coming to my aid, you made a difficult situation manageable. I am truly grateful." "I appreciate your taking the time out of your busy patient load to show me how I could find this policy. You made my day." "I honestly do not know what I would have done if you had not been here today. You helped me more than you will ever know." "I am impressed with how you are progressing in orientation. You appeared very confident in presenting the patient to the team on rounds."


You can also send an e-mail to the manager extolling the virtues of your colleagues and copy them on the e-mail. You could create novel ways of recognizing peers by conferring with the shared governance council and suggesting that "chocolate awards" or "The Golden Apple Award" be instituted at the next staff meeting. Criteria should be established so that the award represents an extraordinary act of courage, tenacity, or compassion. You could write a letter to a peer expressing gratitude and wrap the letter as a gift. You could present the letter to your colleague with the sentiment "With profound gratitude for the wonder of you" or "This is what your contribution means to me." These are gestures that require less than a dollar but the feelings of goodwill that are fostered are priceless.


It is time to embrace the Orange Revolution, and it begins with each of us. The carrot is an excellent metaphor for creating a new vision for recognition. Be bold. Express gratitude often. Envision a work environment that is appreciative. It will be contagious.


Every day, we have a choice to use the "carrot" or the "stick." Always use the carrot. It is more fulfilling!




Alspach J. G. (2003). Recognizing and rewarding nurse preceptors in critical care: Some answers. Critical Care Nurse, 23 (2), 13-19. [Context Link]


Gostick A., Elton C. (2010). The orange revolution. New York, NY: Tanner. [Context Link]


Oxford English Dictionary. (n.d.). Retrieved from[Context Link]


Yonge O., Hagler P., Cox C., Drefs S. (2008). Time to truly acknowledge what nursing preceptors do for students. Journal for Nurses in Staff Development, 24 (2), 113-116. [Context Link]