5 Tips for Baby-Boomer Nurses Who Precept GN’s

5 Tips for Retiring Baby-Boomer Nurses Who Precept New GN’s

What better thing is there for a baby-boomer nurse to fantasize about than retiring? Throwing away that darned alarm clock is one of the best parts of that fantasy! And how about taking a drive to enjoy God’s green earth? Stay out as long as you want to! Be sure to take a picture of your first retirement sunset. Baby-boomer nurses will be retiring very soon!

Are you a baby-boomer who loves camping – but hasn’t been able to squeeze it in for the last 10-20 years? Does hiking, biking, or sailing capture your heart? How about horse-back riding? Swimming in the ocean? Ahhhh…

When you are retired, you wake up when you wake up – and get up when you want to. You go to bed when you get sleepy – and wear any colors you want to. You can plant a garden – and tend it. You can finally get that puppy you’ve been wanting – and have time free to train it properly & in person. You can even move out to the country if you want to.

As a retired baby-boomer nurse, you never again have to get a stranger’s barf, NG drainage, blood, snot, pee, or poo on you. You won’t have to torture your poor back any more either. No more getting clubbed or kicked for trying to help a confused patient. Nor will you ever again be required to administer Dilaudid to drug seekers or be told to come in just 10 minutes after being put on-call.

Yeah – those are some of the memories you can leave behind. But first – your most important job, before you retire, is to convince the next generation that nursing is a great career. Its to your benefit to do an awesome job teaching the next crop of GN’s, because they might be the ones who will be taking care of you when its your turn to be the patient. Here are 5 tips that will help you help the new GN’s turn out great.

Soooo… 1. Tell them the good stories. What memories have you stored up that helped you stick it out all these years? Those are the stories you want to share with the new nurses. They see all the garbage that this job entails already. They need to hear from you what has kept you hanging on until retirement age.

Did you meet your beloved spouse on the job? If so, that’s a good thing to pass on. Did any of your “codes” or “close-calls” ever come back to thank you? Do, by all means, tell that. Absolutely share some of the funny stories and insider jokes. Laughter is good medicine!

Then there are the tender stories. Did your heart totally melt when that 100-year-old lady took five seconds, that you thought you couldn’t spare, to take your hand and kiss it? Do you remember that handsome-enough-to-be-a-model patient who was dying with AIDS – and how you bonded with him, laughed with him, brought him special snacks, and gave him your best – and then cried when he passed?

Did your crusty-mean nurse-manager come find you, hug you with tears in her own eyes, and send you home for the week, when she heard your mom had just passed? And did she also make the arrangements to cover your schedule and make sure you would get bereavement pay?

Maybe, at one of your jobs, the nursing staff was close and used to party together? Maybe you even went on a wonderfully fun vacation with some other baby-boomer coworkers – and got a great discount because of the group rate. Tell it. Telling these kinds of things, plus what is in the following paragraphs, could make a big difference in a young nurse’s attitude.

Then… 2. Don’t let them lose their first love. This is the best thing you can do. Because the real world is seldom like what they told you in school, do try to find some similarities to point out. In school, we all learned terminology, A&P, meds, and a lot of theory. But most nursing schools don’t teach the practical duties well at all. Tie it together for them. Make it real. “We do it this way because… “

The culture shock from knowing – to doing – can be staggering! Teaching GN’s tasks from merely a task-oriented base is not going to help them in the long run. But when you tie it together for them, they don’t feel that their four years of college were a waste – and they aren’t as likely to say, “Hey! This isn’t what I signed up for!”

Do you remember how frustrated you felt when you discovered you graduated with just a lot of head knowledge and were not prepared to do your job? As a brand new GN, I didn’t know how to start an IV, place a Foley or NGT, safely transfer patients from bed to chair, or even the proper way to help a patent with a bedpan! I graduated with nothing but theory! I also didn’t know how to protect my back or my feet – or how to manage my time so I could get lunch and go pee. I NEEDED my preceptor.

Please… 3. Say it with words. Its also important to encourage the use of medical terminology at work, so new nurses can speak more intelligently and fluently with other medical professionals. Then they will become more comfortable and confident with using medical jargon and feel more like a professional. So use technical terms with them – except, of course, when talking with patients.

Often, when a baby-boomer nurse knows they will retire soon, they stop using technical verbiage and start using layman’s – or even slang terms. While this can be humorous and fun, it doesn’t create the level of respect that a budding new professional could enjoy. So promote them in their new vocabulary. They need to become as familiar as possible with these new words.

Always… 4. Remember to be humble. Its so cool when new GN’s teach their preceptors things and offer an alternate (maybe easier) method. Consider what they offer – seriously. Staying humble will help you to enjoy the learning. You, as a seasoned, baby-boomer preceptor, are pouring into them day after day. They might start to feel like a leach. Let them pour something useful into you as well sometimes – if they want to. Its so good for their self-esteem, and they might teach you something you really can use.

Don’t do what I once did. Once, when I was precepting a new nurse, while I had a cold, she told me a family cold-remedy recipe that always worked for her. I couldn’t wait to tell my coworkers about this disgusting-sounding recipe when I thought my GN was at lunch. We all had a good laugh. But she wasn’t at lunch. She heard me and was so hurt and embarrassed that she quit the next day. Boy, that’ll put some humility in your heart – and fast. She was bright too – and would have been a good one to keep.

Finally… 5. Teach them how to save their back & their feet, how to manage their time so they drink water, take lunch, and get pee breaks.

New GN’s are treasures. They have high hopes. They see a bright new world opened up to them, and many want to further their career and education. Each one is valuable. They will touch many lives. They will make a difference. They are worth the time you spend with them and all the frustrations you experience together. They might even become a friend. And, with any luck, they’ll become your clone – and you can finally retire in peace.

Now, where were we? Oh yeah – we were getting ready to talk about tubing down the river, fishing at the lake, skiing in the mountains, watching clouds, traveling, playing with grandbabies… You are baby-boomer nurses. You have precepted well. Now its time to leave it to the new GN’s. They’ve got you covered.

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