The Science Journal of the American Association for Respiratory Care

2004 OPEN FORUM Abstracts

THE MEANING OF PRECEPTORSHIP IN RESPIRATORY CARE CLINICAL EDUCATION

Kathy Jones-Boggs Rye, Ed.D., R.R.T.; Erna L. Boone, M.Ed., R.R.T.; Heather Neal-Rice, M.Ed., R.R.T.; University Arkansas Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR. & Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System, Little Rock, AR.

Background: Respiratory Therapists (RT) preceptors provide expert clinical support for the bedside learning experiences of respiratory care students. Therapists, employers, educators, and Society are becoming progressively more attentive to the consequences of a technological explosion and the growing complexities of the current healthcare structure. The nation-wide shortage of RTs is a major contributing factor. RTs are often faced with the catch-22 of short staffing and mandatory overtime. In the midst of this frenzied work atmosphere, RTs are being asked to volunteer to perform as preceptors for RT students. The purpose of this research is to illuminate respiratory therapists’ lived experiences of preceptorship and to develop an understanding of the meaning of being a preceptor and of the preceptor-preceptee relationship during respiratory care clinical education.

Methods:
This qualitative study explored the attitudes of 45 participants of a respiratory care clinical education preceptor training program at a large urban children’s hospital. During the workshops, an open-ended critical-incident questionnaire was administered. The questionnaire was modeled after an instrument used by Dunlevy & Wolf in their 1994 study which explored the clinical learning experiences of allied health students.1

Results:
A phenomeno-logical approach was applied to study the experiences of those who are involved in an ongoing experience of preceptorship. Preceptors revealed a need to discover solutions to the dilemma of finding the time to provide quality patient care while including the student in one’s daily workload, as well as increased awareness of the processes of learning in the clinical environment. Qualitative description of these clinical preceptors’ perceptions is discussed.

Conclusions:
The preceptor-preceptee relationship formed the basis of the process of teaching and learning in the clinical environment which incorporated meaning, lived experience, and reflection. Further, it is demonstrated that preceptorship rewards both the respiratory care student and the preceptor and that the primary motivation for clinical teaching is personal satisfaction. Perhaps the most important implication of the study is that increased workloads on preceptors may threaten the clinical education of RT students. Pressures for increased productivity make it less attractive to train the students if personal productivity is affected. Educational programs and institutions must monitor the increasing pressures on their preceptors and ensure that the goals, processes, support, and rewards for clinical teaching are appropriate. 1Dunlevy CL & Wolf KN. Clinical learning experiences of allied health students. AARC Distinguished Papers Monograph. 1994; 3(1):3-10.

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