Newly graduated nurses at Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City now have a way to ease into the profession before they begin working with patients.
Mercy on Monday opened a nurse-resident Learning Center. The first cohort will complete a seven-week orientation at the center before moving up to the hospital units where they will work.
The Learning Center’s goal is to fill the gap between nursing school and professional practice. While there, new nurses, called nurse residents, will learn how to properly document patients’ charts and conduct assessments of commonly seen symptoms and disorders, as well as practice patient care fundamentals such as safe lifting techniques and code responses.
“It just felt like there really is a big gap between being a student nurse and being confident on the units,” said Mary Lawrence, who worked as a health educator before switching to nursing. “We get to really learn things before being thrown out there.”
Starting nursing can be intimidating for new graduates, Learning Center Manager Hope Knight said, but the hardest part is walking into a patient’s room and identifying oneself as a nurse.
“Hopefully, when they’re finished with this they can walk into any room and know, ‘What do I need to do?’” Knight said.
To complement the new approach, Mercy has changed its hiring process for newly graduated nurses. Instead of hiring nurses for specific units and sending them there, all newly graduated nurses will go through the Learning Center and be placed upon completion.
“I hire for Mercy and then we find that good fit,” Knight said.
Nurse-resident Indira Rai-Chaundhury, a former attorney and Air Force officer, found the approach particularly appealing.
“It shows from the very beginning that they’re interested in you staying here,” she said.
Nurse-resident Kristyn Noland stressed Mercy’s commitment to fitting people with the right jobs through the Learning Center orientation.
“I think this is really interesting because it gives you a broader overview of the mission of Mercy, but also gives you an idea of who you are as a nurse,” she said.
Chief Nursing Officer Karyl James worked to implement the Learning Center after researchers found such programs create more competent nurses and reduce turnover.
“Mercy is focused on taking care of the whole person – whether it’s patients or co-workers,” James said. “The Learning Center helps ease new nurses’ anxiety while improving their clinical skills. A confident, well-trained nurse is a great asset to a patient.”