April 12, 2011 | | Comments 0
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Preceptor perspectives on a just culture

By Julie Harris, MSN, RN

Just culture. This term has been thrown around in the nursing literature for many years. Many nurses, including preceptors, might think that it was started in healthcare. Actually, healthcare borrowed the idea from the aviation industry. After a terrible plane crash, the aviation industry started a program to change and correct pilots’ behaviors.

About 20 something years later, the Institute of Medicine published a report, “To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System,” that cited tens of thousands of preventable human deaths per year in United States’ hospitals. This report was a wake-up call to many healthcare leaders. After seeing the success of the aviation industry, many hospitals adapted a similar process and the phrase, “a just culture,” was born.

What does a just culture have to do with me, a preceptor? My answer would be everything. As a preceptor, you are a front line leader. Your peers turn to you for advice, education, and role modeling, especially when it comes to creating and sustaining a just culture in your clinical area. Here are a few points to ponder to determine your fit in a just culture:

  • Do you report near miss events?
  • Do you teach orientees to follow your institution’s policies?
  • Do you proactively report any potential safety hazards?

Over the next several posts, we will examine different aspects of a just culture. We will also explore in-depth a preceptor’s role in creating a just culture. So come along for the just culture ride!

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Julie Harris About the Author: Julie Harris MSN, RN, is a nursing education specialist at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, AR, and develops online and classroom curriculums for nurse preceptors. Julie coordinates an acclaimed preceptor program and tele-nursing education series at her facility, and conducts a monthly preceptor workshop packed with practical tips and tools and activities to enhance learning, communication styles, and mentoring capabilities. She is the author of several published abstracts, articles, and learning courses, and the editor of the Arkansas Children's Hospital’s nursing newsletter.

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