The nurse preceptor's job just keeps getting harder and harder.
Novice nurses are flooding into the workforce—meaning that preceptors must train more new staffers than ever before. But at the same time, clinical education is getting increasingly complex as the patient population ages, develops more chronic comorbidities, and needs ever-more-sophisticated care.
Last year, Inova Health System decided to face these problems head-on by reimaging its preceptor training strategy. Here's what Inova learned—including three strategies that can help other health systems improve their nurse training.
How Inova uncovered its 3 key opportunities for change
In February 2019, Inova Health System's Maureen Sintich, CNE, asked an expert partner from Advisory Board to facilitate a two-hour onsite workshop to evaluate the system's current preceptor program and identify ways to better support preceptors in the future.
Approximately 30 participants attended, including Sintich, preceptors, clinical directors, and clinical mentors. Over the course of a candid, wide-ranging conversation, they discovered that—while Inova's preceptor program performed well in many regards—preceptors felt there wasn't a standardized approach across the system for training preceptors and supporting new graduate nurses.
During and after the workshop, Inova's nursing leaders identified three key ways to address these challenges:
- Establishing a dedicated education unit (DEU) to provide consistent preceptor support to new graduate nurses The DEU team conducted a literature review of Advisory Board research and identified best practices for consistent preceptor training and new graduate support. Then, they designed a specific training program for preceptors, including teaching preceptors to ask questions in a way that prompts critical thinking in new graduate nurses. Inova piloted the DEU on its General Medicine Unit and included nurses from their Progressive Care, Surgical, Medical, and Intensive Care units.
- Creating 'grab and go' kits that help preceptors teach key skills These kits contain all the supplies preceptors need to teach select clinical competencies to new nurses. Preceptors at Inova are equipped with five ready-to-use kits to teach the following competencies: blood transfusion, central line management, Foley catheter, and peripheral IV.
- Pairing up new and experienced nurses on RN Partner Rounds Under this model, proficient or competent nurses are paired with novice nurses to round on patients together several times per shift. These rounds allow more experienced nurses to catch missed care in the moment and provide at-the-hip support and actionable feedback to novice nurses.
The results: Better training outcomes—in less time
Since Inova launched the DEU, 14 new graduate nurses have completed the program. The early results are promising: Data shows improvement in new graduates' communication with doctors (2.16 to 3.15 after six months on a four-point scale), delegating to clinical techs (2.58 to 3.22), and asking for help from nurses (3.25 to 3.88).
What's more, the DEU reduced training and orientation time for new nurses—several of the new graduate nurses finished orientation early, due to the confidence and solid skill foundation they gained from the DEU. Inova nursing leaders believe the investment they made in preceptor support and new graduate training helps RNs recognize and value their organization and leaders, which in turn creates loyalty and commitment to Inova.
How Advisory Board can help you revamp your preceptor training and support
Interested in revamping preceptor training and support at your organization? Invite an Advisory Board expert faculty member to facilitate a workshop with leaders at your organization to prioritize the most important steps you can take to better support preceptors and new graduates.
The Nursing Executive Center wishes to thank the following DEU team members at Inova Fair Oaks Hospital for their willingness to share their outstanding work:
Katie Hile, MSN, RN, NE-BC
Jessica Harasek, MSN, RN, CAHIMS, RN-BC
Priscilla Trewartha, BSN, RN
Frances Collins, MSN, RN, CCRN-K, NE-BC
Deborah Fulbrook, EdM, MHS, BSN, RN, NEA-BC
Kathleen Russell-Babin, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, ACNS-BC
Maureen Sintich, DNP, MBA, RN, WHNP-BC, NEA-BC
Inga Rollins, MPH, BSN, RN, NPD-BC, CPN
Olga Torralba, MSN, RN, CCRN
Laura Mcnicholl, MS, RN, CNS-BC, RN-BC
Vicki Lindgren, MSN, RN, CNS, CCRN, CCNS
Maureen DeSena, MSN, RN, ACNS-BC, NPD-BC
Lisa Robinson, MSN, RN, CPN, RNC-MNN
Allison Eustace, MSN, ACNS-BC
Debra Charland Jacobsen, BS, MT(ASCP)BBCM