After four years I wanted to challenge myself further and transferred into the Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit caring for post-open heart and post-cardiac surgical patients. My clinical skills and overall competence and confidence grew throughout this time period. I learned the role of charge nurse, unit practice council member and peer reviewer. The organization was now on the journey towards Magnet designation and I was actively analyzing my role. During this time, my 6 year old son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and we spent a week in the hospital. Parallel to this, my father suffered and subsequently passed away from complications of Alzheimer’s. Both experiences further enhanced my view of nurses. In turn, I became more passionate, patient, understanding and motivated. I started thinking about my career trajectory and wanted to make a broader positive impact on nursing, patient outcomes, and overall people’s lives. An opportunity became a reality in the Department of Nursing Education and Research. I looked towards the future as I accepted a position as a Clinical Instructor covering several units.
The Department of Nursing Education and Research allowed me to have the autonomy to grow into my role. I trialed ways to educate, instruct, support, direct, and train nurses. It was most important to me that each nurse I worked with to onboard and orient felt they had the tools needed to be successful to grow. I became certified as a Critical Care Registered Nurse and earned my Masters in Nursing Education. I took on a variety of roles within the department with increasing responsibility. When I became the Program Director for the SBMC Professional RN Residency Program, I committed to giving the nurses my all. There is nothing that I would not do to help them be the best version of themselves in order to provide the safest and most compassionate nursing care.
What are you doing regarding COVID in your Nurse Residency program?
COVID-19 has impacted my workflow as a professional development practitioner. The ability to have that consistent face-to-face communication including building professional, personal and trusting connections, have been affected by social distancing restrictions and limited classroom space. As such, I am increasing the use of technology and innovation by using YouTube videos, texting, emailing, holding contests, creating an RN resident newsletters containing photos of each resident, utilizing GoToMeetings for lectures and meetings, and reformatting our internal intranet page to engage residents, nurses and stakeholders.
Additionally, I have increased the amount of times I communicate with the RN Residents via phone calls, drop in office hours and impromptu GoToMeetings.
In order to assess and evaluate psychomotor and affective knowledge, skills and attitudes, more frequent sessions are occurring with a group size limited to 9 or less per session. This has allowed me to form more intimate group connections when we do meet in person.
Another key adjustment that has been made is a Clinical Instructor was dedicated to rounding on the RN Residents who work on the night shift. This allowed a direct line of communication and support to occur in the practice setting for the night shift residents.
Flexibility and fluidity are key. The length of orientation, as well as the amount of sessions and classes, increased to factor in the patient population that the residents were exposed to from March - June 2020. Because the residents were caring for the same type of patient, this required specialty practice education to be deferred to when the organization restarted routine census. The program curriculum was altered in order to address priority events and challenges. For example, resiliency and moral distress was added to sessions.
What did getting the PTAP accreditation mean to you?
Gaining PTAP accreditation with distinction was a magical moment for me and my team. It validated that we are utilizing best practice within our scope. It was a confidence booster for newer Clinical Instructors and a moment of pride for senior Clinical Instructors. Having experienced COVID-19 and not being able to control or predict so many things directly impacting our workflow, our peers and the nursing staff, was challenging. Submitting the PTAP manuscript became something that we just could not give up on. When the moment came to fruition, and the results of the process were announced, it was so worth it to know that the ANCC PTAP team believed in our work.
In essence, it meant that my team and I are doing things right. Hearing and processing the accreditation decision was priceless.
What do you hope to do in the future to enhance your program?
I have learned so much throughout the accreditation process and in the last year. The effects of COVID-19 on operationalization of onboarding, orientation, continuing education and transition to practice have set the need for innovation to be on speed dial. I have so many ideas and I hope to enhance my program by creating the same quality of support and education through the increased use of technology. I would like to introduce virtual reality as an assessment tool and build simulation into 80% or more of the courses for the RN residents. I would like resident graduates to formally mentor resident participants throughout the program. I hope to streamline processes in the organization that will track and promote growth of RN resident graduates. I also seek to enhance the program by advocating for an RN residency program budget. Finally, I would like to build in a community service activity and other outdoor events into the curriculum.