1. Clevenger, Kay RN, MSN

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Fulfilling a part of its Healthy Work Environment Initiative, the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses developed the Standards for Establishing and Sustaining Healthy Work Environments. Meaningful recognition is one of these standards: "Nurses must be recognized and must recognize others for the value each brings to the work of the organization."1 As this paradigm becomes universally accepted in the nursing profession, today's efforts will become tomorrow's successes. To meet this goal, the Indiana University Operating Room (IUOR) Preceptor Academy Award program was initiated in April 2005.


Preceptors on the red carpet

As the retention specialist for the hospital, I was asked to work with the OR team to create a healthier work environment. I started by meeting with the nursing orientees, who participate in an OR internship for 6 months. In talking with the interns, I looked for opportunities to reward preceptors for doing an outstanding job.


During initial preceptor celebration luncheons, we provided a recognition certificate and goodie bag for each of the 45 preceptors-RNs, certified surgical technicians (CSTs), and travelers-to thank them for their contributions to developing the nursing orientees.


In conjunction with the nursing leaders, we then launched a series of educational lunch sessions. Four lunch sessions were held each month (10 months out of the year) for 2 years. A variety of topics were presented and discussed, often in a series format. The topics included:


* giving and receiving feedback


* personality profiles


* teamwork


* communication and conflict resolution


* generational differences


* mentoring.



Dubbed the Academy Awards, monthly preceptor recognition included a silver award (a logo-type gift) and a winner's cup gold statue. An announcement card of positive comments was read aloud and applauded, and a memo of the comments was also placed in the employee's file. Photos were taken of each individual preceptor and a poster was placed in the break room, celebrating the preceptors for that time period. A copy of the photo was also given to the preceptor.


At this time, we've discontinued the monthly luncheons and now present the Academy Awards at staff meetings. We held a holiday round of luncheons this past December, during which the vice president of nursing and clinical director met with the preceptors. To date, we've given out over 135 Academy Awards. We've had several multiple winners, with one preceptor being awarded 11 Academy Awards, referred to as the "Meryl Streep of IUOR preceptors."


A job well done

The Academy Awards program has helped to reinforce positive behaviors and improve preceptor morale. The most frequent comment has been "my preceptor had my back." The luncheons have provided ongoing education, further development, and enhanced bonding, as well as serving as a source of fun while recognizing our preceptors for their hard work and dedication.




1. American Association of Critical-Care Nurses. AACN's Standards for Establishing and Sustaining Healthy Work Environments. Available at:$file/HWEStandards.. Accessed August 20, 2008. [Context Link]