January 20, 2010
Typically, a new nurse graduates from a nursing program and goes to work in either a medical or surgical area of a hospital. They receive general training, and it typically takes a year or two before they can move into a specialty area, such as the emergency room. However, a new program at Martha Jefferson Hospital is bypassing that waiting period, putting men and women right in the ER to learn the necessary skills.
"In the emergency department, I've learned that you can't do anything on your own and you always need someone else to support you. So, it's important to have people that you can trust and know you can count on in these situations," said program participant Brigite Line.
Behind the stethoscopes, the syringes, and the patient charts, are the nurses people rely on when they're rushed through the doors of an emergency room. Their confidence is the product of experiences gained through training they received as graduates of an external program at Martha Jefferson Hospital.
Men and women in the program receive six months of classroom work and one-on-one training in the ER with a mentor. Overstreet says the program is akin to extra orientation focused in emergency care.
"The nurses [who] come out of this program know what they are supposed to be doing, they come out of this program knowing how to take care of patients. They also come out of this program with a strong sense of camaraderie with their other emergency nurses," said program director and nurse educator, Meredith Overstreet.
The new program is proving to be a great recruiting tool as well; people who hear about it want to work at Martha Jefferson. The retention rate - 90% in two years - is high. Nurses get the training they need to be successful and the desire to stay at the hospital to join emergency care teams.
Overstreet says, most importantly, the program graduates nurses who patients can trust.
"It benefits the community because we are not throwing brand new nurses at the patients in the emergency department, they are well trained," said Overstreet.