No matter your profession, it’s always nice to be appreciated by your peers. Kathleen Crawford, a 2018 Preceptor Excellence Award winner, is treasured by hers.

“Katie is a preferred preceptor on our unit for nursing students, new hires and nurses who wish to shadow,” said nurses Grace Chapman and Mary Monge when nominating Crawford for the award. “Even when another nurse has a preceptee, she will have that nurse spend a day with Katie because she knows she is so thorough and she will fill in the gaps.

“Katie is the perfect role model to other nurses and patient-care associates that she works with. She is truly a world-class leader who exemplifies compassion, is respectful of her peers, and empowers her patients by providing them with knowledge.”

Tell us a little about yourself.

I graduated from The Ohio State University with a bachelor’s degree in nursing in 2010 and accepted an internship at the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute caring for the oncology breast population at an ambulatory site in Dublin. I moved to what is now the Stefanie Spielman Comprehensive Breast Center in January 2011. After completing an internship and a yearlong residency, I became an infusion nurse at the Breast Center. I have worked there for eight years, caring for the breast and gynecology oncology population and have loved every minute of it.

Where are you from originally and what led you to Ohio State?

I have lived a majority of my life in the Columbus area and have always been a Buckeye at heart.

What drew you to the field and the role you play at the medical center?

During nursing school, at the beginning of my clinical experiences, I was doubting my major decision after some unpleasant encounters. I talked to my clinical instructor and to this day thank her for playing such a vital role in my career. She told me to give nursing one more shot and wanted me to try a clinical rotation at The James. I did that and with my first day, I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of. I instantly felt a difference. The community love felt the moment you walk through the doors is unique and genuine.

Upon graduating, I knew I wanted to work for The James. I had the opportunity to be part of the first ambulatory internship, and it was something I was not going to pass up. Ambulatory care provides the opportunity to care for individuals at a variety of acuities and allows professional relationships to develop and grow. I value my professional relationships with my patients, and it is the most rewarding part of my career. Some say they chose oncology but through my journey, I believe oncology chose me.

How have you built relationships with patients and other providers?

Through relationship-based care, I have been able to build relationships with my patients, families and coworkers. In each encounter, I take the time to get to know my patients in a holistic manner.

Caring for their medical condition is just one piece of my practice. It is so important I provide safe, effective care to provide positive outcomes, but it is equally important that I build a trusting, caring relationship with my patients and families. I enjoy hearing their stories, learning their likes and dislikes. In my line of work, I can care for patients for years, and I want them to know I am here for them in times of happiness and sadness. We laugh and cry together.

Relationships with my co-workers are important, too. They really are my work family. We celebrate often together with no event being too small.

In your role as a preceptor, what are the key pieces of advice or information you want to pass along to new people in your unit?

As a preceptor, I would say that no question is ever a silly question and always continue to ask the “why?” It is important to continue to learn and grow as a nurse for your entire career. Being a nerd is cool! Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and try new experiences. Involve yourself in as much as you can handle balancing work and life happiness. Be an active participant on your unit, a team player, stay calm and collected even when times get stressful. Do what is right, not what is easy. Keep your patients safe and feeling valued. Managing time is important but don’t rush – take the extra minute to smile, hold someone’s hand or talk about their grandkid’s soccer game.

If I have learned one thing from my patients it is, yes, my day is stressful, but it’s all perspective; take a deep breath, don’t waste your minutes, and persevere. It’s a great lesson for all.

Which of the medical center’s core values do you most identify with and why?

Wow, I would say all are so important to hold as an individual. I believe I identify most with sincerity, determination and ownership. It is important to always be sincere in all aspects of your life. As a nurse, we encounter individuals at sometimes the most vulnerable part of their life. I may not always be able to relate, but I can always be genuine, honest and whole-hearted and practice with integrity.

Additionally, I believe I am extremely determined and hold ownership in all I do. I am open to volunteer for any task no matter how big or small and take accountability for my work. I value my work and see the pride in doing things to the best of my ability.

I feel a majority of my life I have made the choice to be determined. During nursing school, it was just my daughter and me; I was determined to do well in order to succeed and be able to provide for her. I try to instill in her – and now my other daughter as well – that your work is a reflection of you, so working hard and doing your best is so very important.

Now as an RN, I participate in multiple-unit and shared-governance initiatives to improve and enhance patient care along with the experience.

How can others apply your winning skills or strategies?

Be open to volunteering and giving your time even if it is out of your comfort zone; a lot of opportunities arise that open new doors and help one grow professionally. Continue to push yourself and grow as a professional.

When precepting, be patient and remember we all were novice learners at one point. Show compassion and take the time to sit with who you are precepting and learn their preferred learning style. Come up with hands-on learning experiences or case studies to assist with helping them grow as a professional. Take the time to review charts with them, look up policies and research questions. Don’t just give them the answer; show them tools and resources to help find the answer.

Take care of you, find things outside of work to decrease stress and enhance your quality of life.

What’s the most challenging part of your job? What’s the most rewarding part?

The most challenging part of working in oncology is building meaningful professional relationships with patients and then the patient passing. I have met many amazing individuals and built relationships with them over the years and then, unfortunately, they lose their battle to cancer. I learn their likes, dislikes, hear stories about their children and grandchildren, talk about life struggles and joys. We pray, we smile, we laugh, we cry, we celebrate. It is the most rewarding and most challenging part all the same. I would not change being able to be a part of their journey. But I would be lying if it was not difficult to have to say goodbye.

What else should we know about you?

Outside of work, my passion is my family. I have a wonderful husband and two lovely daughters. They are the light of my world. Together we enjoy traveling, hiking and trying new cuisine. Our favorite memories are of exploring the outdoors, being adventurous at amusement parks and snuggling reading bedtime stories.

Thank you, Kathleen, for Improving People's Lives!

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