Announcing the 2017 Clinical Preceptors of the Year

Announcing the 2017 Clinical Preceptors of the Year

The UW School of Nursing is proud to announce its 2017 Clinical Preceptors of the Year. The preceptors and mentors represent a variety of advanced practice tracks at the UW School of Nursing.

Preceptors and mentors are healthcare professionals practicing in the community that volunteer to teach School of Nursing students in clinical settings, allowing students to receive important hands-on patient care experience.

“Our preceptors are crucial to the success of our school. Without their contributions, we could not prepare the next generation of nursing leaders,” said Azita Emami, Ph.D., M.S.N., R.N.T., R.N., F.A.A.N., executive dean of the UW School of Nursing. “I am deeply grateful for the experiences and mentorship these healthcare professionals provide to our students.”

Preceptors of the Year


Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner

Janet DwightGreat preceptors in her nursing education inspired Janet Dwight to become a preceptor herself 13 years ago. She saw it as a way to give back to her profession and educate the next generation of nurses.

“I learned so much from each preceptor. Even if you decide you would do things differently, that’s a learning experience as well. You take things from each preceptor and eventually add it to your own style of caregiving.”

At the Virginia Mason Gynecology Department, Dwight sees women from age 12 to 96, and has been caring for some patients for more than 15 years. She focuses on nursing’s interpersonal elements with her students, emphasizing eye contact, listening carefully to patient history, interviewing and making detailed assessments.

“I’m always impressed with how ready UW nursing students are for clinic. It feels like they ask especially good questions and they are all educated in basic care and ready to learn advanced care.”


Susan Foote, ARNP

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

Susan FooteSusan Foote precepts in her role as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner at Valley Cities Counseling and Consultation.

“I continue precepting UWSON Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Students, first and foremost, as the need to provide clinic experience and education is vital,” she said. “Learning skills for psychiatric assessment is greatly needed. Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners need the opportunities to hone their skills to understand and capture an accurate diagnosis of co-occurring morbidities, including underlying medical issues that may not be obvious to the patients.

Foote continues to find precepting students to be very rewarding and enjoys learning from her students as much as teaching.

“I enjoy watching students progress through the quarter and each experience provides new practitioners an understanding of the importance of evidence based and sustainable effective treatment plans and also to avoid burn out,” she said.



Nurse Midwifery

Carol NeelyBefore Carol Neeley became a midwife and a preceptor, she was an army nurse. She learned quickly on the job, which made becoming a clinical preceptor a natural choice.

“I was taught that you should ease the way for everyone,” Neeley said. “Not just the patient, but your fellow nurses, your housekeeping staff. Put things back where they belong. If something is in your hands, finish it—don’t hand it off.”

After her tenure as an army nurse, Neeley explored the country as a travel nurse and settled down in Washington as a labor and delivery nurse. But something was missing.

“Labor and delivery nurses get to spend so much time in the room with the mother and baby, but I wanted more of a relationship. Now I care for mothers for many years, through the births of all their babies.”

Her UW Midwifery students are eager to learn, research buffs who keep her on her toes. She tries to teach them that there’s no “right way” to give care.

“Students always ask me — did I do this right? I ask them, is your patient healthy and happy? There are so many different ways to give care.”



Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

Susan PaethSusan Paeth started precepting around 1998, first as a pulmonary specialist at Seattle Children’s and then in current role as a pediatric nurse practitioner at Virginia Mason. A teacher at heart, she lectured for several years at both university level and conferences.

“I think my students heard me well and understood my teaching,” she said. “They did their homework when they were with me. After several years, I have really narrowed it down to just taking UW students. They were just a joy to have.”

In addition to teaching skills, Paeth focused on instilling confidence in her students. Occasionally, students would come under her tutelage who were nervous about practicing in real-world settings. She empowered them by focusing on their strengths.

A recent serious illness put Paeth in patient mode versus preceptor; she experienced nursing care firsthand.

“I think the thing that I noticed were nurses that were good teachers and good interviewers,” she said. “I really appreciated the nurse practitioners, who were informative, caring and sat down with you. I had an excellent NP who managed me better than the three tier residency – they knew me so well, they enhanced my discharge planning.”

Paeth plans to return to work later this year.



Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

Moin ShakhMoin Shaikh has been a clinical preceptor since he took his first position at a hospital in 1999. He began precepting in the ICU and found the students smart and capable and confident. At Swedish Medical Center, he teaches nursing students to be kind but assertive.

“I try to teach them to be critical thinker and not to give in to anchor bias (in which humans rely too heavily on the first piece of information offered, often the initial diagnosis). You need to look at what happens outside the pattern. If something doesn’t seem right, pay attention, speak up.”

But Shaikh also understands that nursing can be emotionally and physically exhausting. Nurses are being asked to do more with less, and the pursuit of the bottom line can cause challenges in workflow and burnout. And while nurse practitioners are a tremendous asset to any services, they — like all providers — must receive adequate support.

As important as thinking critically, Shaikh said, is being kind. When people are sick it is easy to focus on the medicine and not the person. I teach my students to listen to what the patient is not saying. Take care of family members too.

“Sometimes we don’t realize how much power we have.”



Community Health Nursing

Muriel SoftliMuriel Softli’s nursing career spanned continents, as a volunteer U.S. Air Force nurse and missionary, but her most meaningful impact was in the lives and health of local school children, as Seattle Public School nurse for 42 years. She retired seven years ago but came out of retirement to care for students as the school nurse at First Place School, a private nonprofit school for children experiencing trauma or homelessness. At First Place School, Professor June Strickland contacted her about precepting for Community Health nursing students. She has been precepting for the past seven years..

“I let the nursing students have free reign of the school,” she said. “They got to know the faculty, the students and families. First Place School was a wonderful experience for them, and a great way to introduce them to this population.”

As a school nurse, Softli and her UW students managed medications, dealt with students’ mental health needs, provided annual preventative care exams, participated in Student Intervention Team meetings and more. Despite the students’ difficult home situations, Softli and her UW students developed close bonds with the children at First Place School.



Family Nurse Practitioner

Melissa StanleyMelissa Stanley first started precepting in about 2013 as a family nurse practitioner working in the Harborview Medical Center emergency department. She has continued in her current clinic at Providence Medical Group Internal Medicine in Everett, where she teaches students to employ creative medical and lifestyle management approaches to care for a high-need patient population with chronic diseases and limited incomes.

“I was hesitant to become a clinical preceptor at first,” she said. “I worked in a busy emergency room and then in a clinic with high-need patients. Plus, I wondered if I had learned enough to be able to teach others, but I saw the need. And I benefited from a great preceptor when I was a student.”

Precepting turned out to be a refreshing experience, she said, that has had a positive impact on her practice.

“I feel like UW School of Nursing students come well prepared,” she said. “They are very eager and willing to step in. They don’t hesitate to ask questions. I love that they often share new perspectives that I hadn’t considered.”

Stanley’s favorite part of precepting is watching the students in her charge gain experience and confidence.

“I love watching the professional growth,” she said. “Seeing NPs succeed as students, graduate, start practicing and become successful nurse practitioners is so rewarding.”

Learn more about becoming a clinical preceptor