Choosing the right candidate to fill a nursing position would hardly be described as a walk in the park. But at Good Shepherd Medical Center in Longview, the job has gotten a little easier thanks to a program that prepares graduate nurses beyond traditional clinicals. The Novice Nurse Residency program for graduate nurses at GSMC combines the necessary clinical skill training with critical thinking.
The program was started in 2010 by Jennifer Bray, RN, BSN, assistant director at the GSMC Center for Innovative Learning. Bray, who handles new nurse orientation, wanted to maximize graduate students clinical experiences to promote a seamless transition from student to professional nurse.
The 450-hour program is for senior BSN students at the University of Texas at Tyler, Longview campus, and East Texas Baptist University in Marshall. Students are called novice residents and paid $10 per hour for two 12-hour shifts per week.
“I discovered the weaknesses that some of the graduate nurses had,” Bray said. “While theyre still in the learning mode, I wanted to invest the money in the beginning to see if these students were truly effective and worth keeping.”
The work experiences are invaluable, according to the students. “I was able to do almost anything but give meds,” said Blake Roberts, RN, BSN, a program participant later hired by GSMC. Roberts, who now works in the ED, said “[the program]made me push to learn more and provided me with time in the hospital that others missed out on.”
Because of his interest in the ED, thats where Roberts spent most of his time as a novice. That practical experience accelerated his skills.
“I can see how much it helped me to be familiar with where things are, how to chart, nursing skills, policy and so many other things I cant even start to say,” he said.
The program began with a cohort of six. Of those, five were hired at GSMC. Today, 12 students per year are selected for the preceptor-led program, and student feedback has been nothing but positive.
“They were really into teaching, really into getting you involved and really great at pulling you into another room and showing you another skill,” said Josh Lancaster, RN, ICU nurse at GSMC. “I felt that being in this program, those preceptors were really into teaching and getting involved.”
Lancaster agrees the program taught him clinical skills he didnt learn in nursing school.
“I felt in general in nursing school you might get with a preceptor who was brand new or didnt have the time to teach,” Lancaster said. At GSMC, they made him feel he “had an impact on that day.”
The program meant so much to Lancaster that he is paying it forward by serving as a preceptor himself.
“I actually enjoy teaching and passing that on to them,” he said. “I feel like we need more preceptors who want to teach and want to help out. I hear from a lot of students who say theyve graduated, but they dont feel like they know anything.”
Bray said investing in the students saves money by reducing new nurse orientation time by 75%, lowering recruitment costs by 50% and reducing new graduate turnover by 10%. Also, it eliminates having to terminate nurses who arent a good fit or need to be placed elsewhere in the hospital.
“Were investing the time and money prior to graduation,” Bray said. “Weve laid down a foundation thats pretty solid. Im doing it at half the cost and half the time.”
Bray said when she started the program she hoped to reduce orientation time, and this program has helped accomplish that goal.
“Were truly utilizing time and resources to the fullest capacity,” she said. “When it comes time for application or hiring of the new graduates, the staff already has hand picked the ones that they want.”
The biggest benefit of the program may be that the new nurse hires are more confident in their ability to perform and make decisions.
“They can time manage and prioritize,” Bray said. “We know theyre going to be high performers.”
And, Bray no longer has to prove the programs success.
“At first, the organization was apprehensive about paying students for clinical time, but now I can walk into budget meetings annually and its not ever a question,” Bray said. “Ive saved the organization so much money in the end. It has been a great investment and a great opportunity for these students.”