Saint Francis Hospital-Memphis launches new nurse training program


The pandemic laid bare something people in healthcare have known for years: There are simply not enough nurses in this country. The preexisting shortage was compounded when pandemic-induced burnout led to a wave of resignations across the country. And with another 500,000 nurses expected to retire this year, the country will need 1.1 million new nurses by the end of 2022, according to the American Nurses Association

COVID-19 has also complicated the process of transitioning new nurses from the classroom to the bedside. Many were not able to get hands-on training in hospitals due to strict safety protocols and, consequently, left nursing school with less practical experience than previous generations. 

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Saint Francis Hospital-Memphis is trying to close that gap. 

Nurse Susan Wood, director of the new novice nurse program inside Saint Francis Hospital's new oncology training wing, where experienced nurses will team with new caregivers for a hands-on learning experience that was lost during portions of the pandemic where bedside training was replaced with remote learning.

“We recognize that during the pandemic, there were fewer opportunities for nurses to get actual clinical experience in an inpatient setting, and that can make the transition into providing patient care in a hospital intimidating,” said Cameron Murphy, chief nursing officer of Saint Francis Hospital-Memphis.

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The hospital is recruiting new nurses for its Novice RN Program, which will pair the early career nurses with experienced nurses to provide mentoring and other on-the-job training as the new nurses start full-time work, program director Susan Wood said. Currently, the program is only in the works at Saint Francis’ Memphis hospital. 

“The program for Saint Francis is more unique. It encompasses the preceptor program, where they’re learning how to be an actual professional nurse,” she said. “And that means putting IVs in, taking blood pressures, assessments of patients, pain management, but also we’re adding a couple other components that aren’t generally seen.”

Nurses Amber Webb, left, and Lindsay Hale inside Saint Francis Hospital's new oncology training wing, where experienced nurses will team with new caregivers for a hands-on learning experience that was lost during portions of the pandemic where bedside training was replaced with remote learning.

In addition to helping the nurses grow their confidence at the bedside, the program is also geared toward helping them master other skills, like time management, how to communicate with patients and physicians and team-building exercises outside the hospital, Wood said. 

The Novice RN Program will also include some testing on hospital policies. Wood said the testing is not punitive, simply to make sure the nurses have a good grounding in the things that often get thrown out quickly during an orientation period. 



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