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Weiss Nurtures Nursing Program: Delivers Knowledge, Networking for New Nursing Grads

Mar 26, 2009

Contact: Catherine Gianaro
(773) 564-7285

CHICAGO, IL (March 26, 2009) —When Nikki Wright was preparing for life after college, Weiss Memorial Hospital caught her eye. The employment posting offered a three-month program for new college graduates, Nurturing the New Grad Nurse, which helps nursing students transition into the hospital workforce while networking with other nurses and hospital professionals. Wright knew this would be an ideal way to find a nursing mentor and strengthen her knowledge base in the hospital environment.

Nurturing the New Grad Nurse began in July 2007; since that time, 41 nurses have “graduated” from it. Only four of those graduates have since left Weiss. Stella Hatcliffe, R.N., M.Sc., vice president of patient care services and professional development at the hospital, attributes the program to the high retention rate.

“We knew we had a lot of seasoned, experienced nurses at Weiss who could nurture newly graduated nurses,” Hatcliffe said. “We designed the program not only to bring in new nurses, but also to cultivate their knowledge and experience at Weiss, and foster connections with other hospital professionals.” The senior nurses serve as preceptors in the Nurturing program, whereby each one is partnered with a new nurse as a mentor through his or her first 12 weeks. The preceptors demonstrate and teach work flow organization, day-to-day time management, and relationship building with patients and families. The new nurses incrementally take over under the watchful and guiding eye of their mentors.

Once a week, the new nurses meet in the classroom for a lecture series. Physicians, pharmacists, respiratory therapists, laboratory technicians, physical therapists, case managers, social workers, staff nurses from across the hospital and even senior leadership present the details of their individual jobs and how they can support the new graduates in their day-to-day work—satisfying a new nurse’s hunger to learn more and develop a sense of interest and pride in the many facets of Weiss.

“It’s important to provide the new nurses with academic- and theory-based lectures, and it’s crucial they learn in real situations alongside their mentors,” Hatcliffe explained. “But one of the key things is the way they learn from each other—sharing experiences and getting oriented with the workplace.” To that end, the nurses in the program spend part of each classroom day sharing challenges they encountered and how they handled them in group sessions. It gives the participants a chance to decompress, socialize and meet new people.

Nurturing the New Grad Nurse does more than just benefit the new nurse, said Cynthia Gonzalez, nurse educator and co-organizer of the program. It builds morale among Weiss’s long standing nursing workforce. “Having a friend at work is one of the main things that keep individuals in their jobs,” Gonzalez said, adding newer nurses gain more than a friend. “They have an entire peer group they can talk to, ask for advice or just lean on for support.