1. Modic, Mary Beth DNP, APRN-CNS, CDE

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Serendipity! Serendipity is one of my favorite words. I love the way it sounds when I use it. Serendipity is the word that, I believe, best describes my nursing career. When I graduated from my baccalaureate program, I never could have imagined the opportunities that would come my way, the patients who I would have the privilege to care for, and the individuals who would influence my thinking and make me a better nurse.


When I was a senior in college, I had the good fortune of hearing Dr. Madeleine Leninger speak about her theory of transcultural nursing at a "future of healthcare" conference. Several of my classmates and I approached Dr. Leninger after the conference and asked if she wanted to have pizza with the four of us. To our surprise, she said "yes" and captivated each of us with her stories of pitching tents in Africa and traversing about the globe, and her hopes for the future of nursing practice. When I reflect on how this brilliant, forward-thinking, and preeminent researcher decided to spend an evening with four 20-year-old college students, I remain in awe. I can only imagine how busy she must have been. Yet, she took time to teach, to inspire, and to help us imagine our future in nursing. The future she spoke of is now my past.


When I was a novice staff development instructor, a colleague and I were charged with creating a preceptor program for the Cleveland Clinic. We had the privilege to listen to Dr. Marlene Kramer speak about her research on "Reality Shock" and what we must do to help our newest and most vulnerable nurses navigate the challenges of busy and demanding nursing units. After her presentation, the two of us invited Dr. Kramer to join us for lunch. We were overjoyed when she said "yes." She was animated and exuberant as she asked us questions about the program we were designing. She made each of us feel special and validated the importance of the work on which we were to embark. She challenged us to create an environment where the contributions of our newest colleagues would be cherished. I remember one of her comments to us, "Remember your nurses will be making the transition from learners who incidentally work, to workers who incidentally learn. It's harder than we appreciate." The future work she spoke of is now in the past.


On my last day of work before beginning my maternity leave with my first child, I was introduced to Dr. Belinda Puetz. Belinda had come to Cleveland to facilitate a workshop on curriculum design for the staff development department. She was a master teacher and showed her expertise with each concept that she introduced. She was a visionary, and it was she who helped create this Journal and the National Nursing Staff Development Organization (now the Association for Nursing Professional Development). Her presentation left a lasting impression on me. The future organization she spoke of is now.


When I was completing my MSN, I was required to submit a publishable article to fulfill a course requirement. Another classmate and I collaborated on the article entitled "Developing a Preceptor Program: What are the Ingredients?" When we read the peer-reviewed comments from our classmates and professor, we were overcome with the amount of red ink that filled the pages. We had to read between the red markings to locate our original words! The red ink filled every page. You get the picture[horizontal ellipsis]. we had a lot of rewriting to do, and had only 48 hours to make the recommended edits before we had to return to our professor. We submitted the article to the Journal of Staff Development. Dr. Puetz's additional edits made the article even better. That publication led to speaking invitations across the country. I was asked to share my experience with creating a vibrant and innovative preceptor program. That first publication afforded me many opportunities and gave me confidence to try writing again. Little did I know that Belinda would reenter my world and give me a monumental gift-the opportunity to write a column for this Journal. The future she gave me will be my past, as this is the last preceptor column I will write.


I think it is time for a new person to fill this space with novel ideas, fresh perspectives, and a new voice. I hope that you have been inspired, comforted, and challenged by Mary Schoessler's and my writings over the past 11 years. I hope I have left you with a sense of the importance of your work, the magnitude of your imprint, and the power of your words and demeanor. The future I envision for nursing will soon be your past. It will come more quickly than you can anticipate.


Serendipity has been my lifelong companion. It can be yours too. Everyone you meet has the power to create serendipity in your life if you are willing to be open, to take risks, and to bear witness to the suffering of others. My parents opened my world to serendipity and the endless opportunities to live a purposeful life. They were my first teachers of these maxims, my siblings and I practiced them, the man I married embodied them, and our children strive to live by them (see Table 1).

Table 1 - Click to enlarge in new windowTABLE 1 Modic Maxims

As I take my leave of this space, I ask your indulgence as I publicly acknowledge those individuals who were so supportive of my writing this column. First and foremost, I would like to acknowledge my family. When I started writing this column, my six children were in grade school and high school. They are adults now, several with children of their own. Along with my husband, they endured piles of paper taking over our dining room table and countless meals in which the menu was "YOYOs-you are on your own."


I want to recognize Dr. K. Kelly Hancock, the chief nurse executive of Cleveland Clinic Health System. Kelly has been an incredible supporter of my work as a clinical nurse specialist. She is a dream maker[horizontal ellipsis]she has embraced my ideas and helped bring them to fruition, even when others were skeptical.


I want to thank the amazingly generous Dr. Belinda Puetz who invited Dr. Mary Schoessler and me to create this column. She was a wonderful editor and afforded Mary and me a great deal of latitude. Thank you to Dr. Mary Schoessler whose words filled this column with me for 7 years. We would share ideas over the telephone, and after several years of collaborating, we finally met at a conference in Columbus. She is as wonderful in person as she was on the telephone.


I would like to express my gratitude to Ms. Kari Schmidt who served as editor for my columns for the past 3 years. She has been encouraging of my work and so patient with my missed deadlines!


Finally, I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to you, the readers. It has been an honor and joy for me to have been given a forum to offer my opinions on how we welcome, nurture, and teach new nurses and how we can do better. Writing can be a lonely enterprise because you never know how the message was received. I am grateful to those of you who took the time to reach out to me and share your thoughts about a column. I have saved every e-mail!


As I bid you adieu, I want to leave with you one final thought. You have only one life[horizontal ellipsis]live it with purpose and be open to all the miraculous serendipitous moments that will come your way. I promise that your life will be enriched tenfold.


I conclude this column with another one of my favorite words[horizontal ellipsis]. Farewell.