Preceptor Spotlight: John Hedgpeth


John Hedgpeth
Medical City Fort Worth
Preceptor for TCU Nursing


John Hedgpeth

Courtesy photo: John Hedgpeth

What made you want to become a preceptor?

As nurses, you rely on each other for growth. I had amazing preceptors that invested themselves in me when I was fresh out of school and with every new career opportunity since then. Having received that, I’ve known that it will always be my responsibility to do the same throughout my career. I’m honored to help shape the future of nursing through being a preceptor and I love that we are an ever-growing and evolving profession.


How did you get your start as a preceptor?

My first preceptor assignment was as a frontline nurse in the ICU. I’ve since served as a preceptor for countless students in that regard, as an informatics nurse for people just getting into that field and as a nurse leader for other nurse leaders as well as nursing students.


Did you have a preceptor that inspired you as a student?

The preceptor that inspired me as a student was Darci Miklos in the neuro ICU. She recently retired. I think what inspired me the most about her was that she had a passion for the science of nursing and did everything by the book. Her methods were exact and serious and it really tied together the caring aspects of the profession, along with the exactness that was required, through careful measurement and observation. I was lucky enough to get a job in the neuro ICU out of school and worked right alongside her for the next five years.


Why do you serve as a preceptor?

My first preceptor assignment for a TCU student was about eight years ago. I’ve been a preceptor for TCU students off and on as the opportunity presented itself. I believe in investing in the future of nursing. Nursing is an art and a science. So much about the science can be learned in the classroom setting but the actual hands-on experience is what truly ties it together. Being the son of a nurse (a 1972 TCU graduate) and the husband of a nurse has certainly taught me the importance of learning from the experiences of other nurses. These have been the two greatest teachers for me and having that resource has really underscored the importance of providing mentorship and encouragement for novices in the nursing field. I also believe that new nurses should be challenged but encouraged to grow. They are our future and the impressions we leave on them will continue on for generations.


How do you promote professional growth and development with your students?

I am a tactile learner so I believe in letting the student do as much hands-on learning as possible. Also, I think it is important to explain the “why” behind actions to reinforce the importance. Above all, I think it is key to meet people where they are and collaborate with them to develop a strategy to grow toward goals they have set for themselves.


How do you collaborate with students to meet learning objectives? 

I find it helpful to identify the learning opportunities at the front end of the preceptorship. So much more can be accomplished if you establish a road map at the beginning rather than blindly feeling your way through the tasks you need to accomplish. The goal is to be purposeful with the student’s learning — reaching out to other nurses on the unit for opportunities that may not be available with the given patient assignment for example.


How does TCU support your preceptor role?

TCU students are always ready to learn. I couldn’t ask for a better group of people. Keep up the great work!


What do you feel is the most challenging and the most rewarding part of your role as a preceptor?

The most challenging part of the role of being a preceptor is making sure that I am providing the student with enough learning opportunities and making sure that I’m providing an ample demonstration of the many aspects of my job.

The most rewarding part is knowing that I am shaping the future of nursing and that one day they will do the same for another novice nurse.


What is the best advice you could give to a young professional in your field?

I will give the same advice my wife, who had been a nurse for 10 years at the time, gave me when I first came out of nursing school: be humble and be ready to work hard being a team player. I took that advice to heart and it has served me well. I acknowledged and respected the experience of other nurses and sought their advice with unfamiliar and challenging aspects of my career. In turn, I really focused on helping others without being asked. I answered call lights, helped turn, asked if people needed help. My primary focus was on my own patients but when their needs were met, I didn’t hesitate to jump in and help another nurse if they needed it.


Edited for length and AP Style.