Celebrating the Essential Role of Volunteer Faculty Members

June 2013Diana Austin

Laurie Galaty and Steven Leiner, two UCSF School of Nursing volunteer faculty members, have been awarded the first Helen Martin Faculty Practice Awards. The honor, established this year, recognizes volunteer faculty preceptors who demonstrate a sustained commitment to clinical instruction, practice-based teaching and leadership in clinical practice.

Honoring Helen Martin’s Legacy

Galaty and Leiner received their awards at a gathering in May to honor volunteer faculty and celebrate the life and legacy of the late Helen Martin, a pediatric nurse practitioner and clinical director at Valencia Health Services who served as volunteer faculty in UCSF’s Department of Family Health Care Nursing.

Seth Ammerman (center) with awardee Steve Leiner and Leesa Benenhaley, who accepted the award for Laurie Galaty Martin’s husband, family and friends recently established the award with a fund in her memory to support and recognize the work that volunteer faculty do. Martin’s husband, Seth Ammerman, a clinical professor of pediatrics at Stanford University, says, “Helen felt passionately about mentoring and teaching. Throughout her career, she worked with trainees, and over the 10-plus years she managed Valencia Health Services, she made it a priority to ensure that the clinic offered the best training available for the students. Her favorite part of the job was precepting.”

Praise from Students

Galaty, a certified nurse-midwife at the Women's Community Clinic in San Francisco, received high praise from nursing student Leesa Benenhaley when she nominated Galaty for the award. “[Laurie’s] approach allowed me to tap into the knowledge I possessed, allowing curiosity in spaces I was unsure about, and enabled me to problem solve on my own.”

Leiner, a family nurse practitioner at Mission Neighborhood Health Center, was nominated by student Rebecca Kooistra, who wrote, “He has a long history of working with students and continually challenges them to think critically about clinical issues and to understand why we are doing what we’re doing.”

Leiner had some additional advice for the students present at the ceremony: “Think hard and keep a sense of humor and enjoy what you do,” he said. “I love to be a preceptor because it’s fun to teach, and I love the profession, so I love to help other people through the profession.”

Precepting Benefits Students and Volunteer Faculty

Volunteer faculty play an essential role in educating nursing students by sharing their practical expertise and providing experiences for students in settings beyond the classroom. “It’s the only way you’re going to learn anything,” says preceptor Bettemie Prins. “When I was a student, we hungered for more time with patients. It might be the only time a student gets to see certain things.”

The benefits don’t just go one way; preceptors say that teaching students helps keep them fresh and replenishes their enthusiasm for nursing. Says preceptor Jennifer Ferguson, “I learn so much from the students, and so many good questions come out of our interactions. It keeps me on my toes clinically.”

Many volunteer faculty members see precepting as a way of “paying it forward.” “Somebody did it for me, and I’m incredibly thankful, so I do it for another person, and they’ll do it for another person someday,” says preceptor Hemal Mehta.

To contribute to the Helen Martin Faculty Practice Award fund, please visit the Giving page for the UCSF School of Nursing.

Correction: An earlier version of this story contained the incorrect location for where Laurie Galaty precepts students. The correct location is the Women's Community Clinic in San Francisco.