A Preceptor’s Perspective on Building a Nursing Pipeline

By Sara Bondell - December 11, 2023

Health care systems across the country, including at Moffitt Cancer Center, are grappling with a nursing shortage. The demand for nurses continues to outpace the supply of nursing professionals entering or staying in the field. In the Sunshine State alone, the Florida Hospital Association projects a deficit of nearly 60,000 nurses by 2035 if nothing is done to address the shortage.

At Moffitt, these outside pressures are further amplified by the cancer center’s rapid growth, with the need to staff new ambulatory care centers being built and Moffitt McKinley Hospital, which opened in July 2023. For the new hospital alone, Moffitt needed to fill about 800 positions, a majority being nursing. In fiscal year 2023, the top recruitment area for the cancer center as a whole was nursing and patient care services, with 1,122 people hired.

Moffitt’s Nursing Professional Development team has launched multiple programs to strengthen the pipeline of new recruits, including a preceptor-to-hire program. Preceptors like Justin Therrien train new nurses and students to prepare them to transition into resident positions.

Therrien began working at Moffitt in 2021, caring for patients on the inpatient hematology unit. He started precepting last year after taking the Moffitt preceptor course. Before that, he had been precepting nurses for about seven years at other hospitals. Throughout his career, he estimates he has precepted about 40 nurses ranging from students to experienced nurses.  

Why did you want to work at Moffitt?

I moved from Rhode Island two years ago and knew the name Moffitt because of my previous work in cancer care. I wanted to continue my journey in that field. I hear how great Moffitt is not only from employees but from patients. I feel the difference from my previous organization. You’re always worried about the grass not being greener, but it’s actually very green here. It’s a great place to work.

Why did you want to become a preceptor?

I wanted to become a preceptor here at Moffitt because teaching is a passion of mine. I was a preceptor at my previous job and wanted to continue to help nurses develop new skills and gain a knowledge base about cancer care.

Do you think these types of programs are helping address the nursing shortage?

I think this is a solution and a good way to bring people in and actually see what Moffitt does versus just hearing the name and seeing it on the outside. Moffitt is more specialized compared to other hospitals here, so it’s a very different place to work.

What is your favorite part of precepting?

I think my favorite thing about precepting is watching the nurses grow and become confident with their skills and knowledge they gained from the education and support I provided them.

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