UofL Hospital’s Nursing Education and Research Department offers a number of educational and leadership opportunities to our nurses and clinical staff. One way they develop current nursing staff is through the Preceptor Academy.
A nurse preceptor is an expert who serves as a role model, socializer, communicator, and educator. Preceptors are vital to the development of both new staff and students in providing a caring and supportive environment for learning at UofL Hospital.
This year, the Nursing Education and Research Department honored an outstanding nurse preceptor during National Nurses Week. The award was given to Kristin Skeens, BSN, RNC-NIC, in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at UofL Hospital Center for Women and Infants.
Elena Abascal, MSN candidate, Columbia University, and Capstone student at UofL Hospital, shared the following at the award ceremony:
Last December, with less than a year left of nursing school, I submitted a proposal to my school asking them to place me at UofL Hospital for my Capstone rotation in the spring. A few months later, I got an email letting me know that my placement had been approved; that I would be in Louisville for six weeks and precepting with a nurse named Kristin Skeens. At the time, all I could think about was how lucky I was to get the rotation I’d been so anxiously hoping for. What I didn’t know then was that the thing that made me so lucky, the thing that would truly define my essential nursing experience, was as much about where I was going as it was about who would be teaching me once I got there.
Kristin’s passion for training the next generation of nurses was evident to me from my first day on the unit. From our first interaction, Kristin expressed a desire to go beyond what my university required from her as a preceptor. As a burgeoning nurse, it’s been transformative to be precepted by a nurse who sees me as capable of more than I could ever imagine, by someone who proudly embraces my inexperience. Kristin celebrates my status as a student, seeing it as an opportunity to inspire in me a lifetime pursuit of learning and reverence for the nursing profession.
Neonatal care, Kristin’s specialty, exists at the junction of people’s most heartfelt joys and their most profound sorrows. I am inspired by Kristin’s ability to embrace the many roles this area demands. She is a fierce advocate for her patients, a quality that is essential in all areas of nursing but particularly in one where patients are unable to speak on their own behalf. Kristin confronts the complicated ethical issues in this population with poise and integrity, always willing to acknowledge when she is uncertain of something and constantly in pursuit of the highest standard of nursing care.
Every year, Nurses Week ends on the birthday of Florence Nightingale, who all of us know by the title “the founder of modern-day nursing.” Most people also know that Nightingale was also a statistician, a scientist, a researcher and health care advocate. I think in most of our minds, we think of these as separate from her career as a nurse. I’m of the mindset that Florence became the celebrated nurse she is not in spite of her work as a scientist and researcher, but because of it. And I think Kristin is proof of that. Every week, Kristin teaches me by referencing professional journals or articles she’s recently read. She stays abreast of current research, ensuring that her patients care meets the most recent evidence-based guidelines.
I’m a student at one of the oldest nursing schools in America, a place known for training renowned nurse researchers and scientists. And as I enter my last few weeks here at UofL Hospital, I can say with certainty that Kristin’s level of scholarship and academic inquisitiveness matches that of tenured faculty members at my university. The robustness of her knowledge base and her commitment to scientific inquiry should serve as an example to all of us. Using the skills and values Kristin has instilled in me, I hope to become a nurse who, like her, practices to the highest level of professional and academic standards each day.