NEW YORK NURSE: April 2011
by Erin Silk
Facility-based nurse preceptor programs are gaining recognition for retaining capable new nurse graduates and encouraging critical thinking skills. Preceptors are nurse staff volunteers who have the desire to mentor and the training to provide a good experience for new nurses. Because of the numbers of experienced nurses who are retiring, nurses fresh from their own orientations are being tapped to become preceptors. They are the trainers — but who trains and support them?
At Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, experienced preceptors and instructors are training new preceptors through the Maimonides Medical Center Partnership Preceptor Program: Core Curriculum for Clinical Coaching. The program, which held its first class last November, capitalizes on an internal nursing staff willing to bring new nurses up to speed, and management’s commitment to see it work.
The program at Maimonides was started with a grant from the not-for-profit nurse leadership coalition, Vermont Nurses In Partnership (VNIP). VNIP’s programs strive to “promote a workplace culture of nurture, support and professional growth for novice nurses or those in transition to a new specialty.” The aim of the train-the-trainer program at Maimonides is similar and offers a standardized training program and work plan for preceptor development and support at the facility. Trained Maimonides faculty members have voluntarily worked in collaboration with VNIP faculty of the NY College of Technology designing curriculum for the training program.
At the helm of the initiative was Veronica Richardson, NYSNA LBU Executive Committee chairperson at Maimonides. Richardson fought hard for the vision of a self-sustaining preceptor program and, although it had some high-level support, the idea was at first met with resistance from facility leadership. It took Richardson two years to convince senior leadership that there was no one better to train future preceptors than the nurses themselves.
In April 2009, a five-day VNIP train-the-trainer workshop funded by Maimonides’ NYSNA Staff Development Committee was hosted successfully at the facility with multiple NYSNA facilities invited to attend. From Maimonides, six NYSNA members - three staff nurses (from various clinical areas), two clinical instructors, and one nurse clinician - were chosen to participate.
Boosted by the workshop’s success, in January 2010, Richardson and NYSNA Representative Michael Chacon approached the new vice president of nursing at Maimonides, Tom Smith, to present the VNIP mini two-day training model they hoped would be implemented at the facility on an ongoing basis.
“I give much credit to Tom Smith who, in addition to demonstrating a commitment to hiring new nurse graduates, saw the potential for an evidence-based program that harnesses the skills of a cohesive nursing staff. He encouraged the work and the journey,” said Richardson.
Preceptors are selected based on the VNIP Model for Preceptor Selection Criteria, modified to meet Maimonides goals, which include a desire to mentor and other professional benchmarks. Preceptors are trained to develop delegation skills, team-building acumen, address barriers and bridges to communication and expand teaching and learning theory.
Staff who have participated have found the program to be useful in understanding generation gaps and themselves. One participant appreciated the lift it gave her from “preceptor burnout” and another found it encouraging that NYSNA and management came together on such a worthwhile endeavor. “I especially appreciate all of the hard work from our own staff in putting this program together. I feel better prepared and so excited to precept new nurses now,” said one participant.
Maimonides has set the ambitious goal of training 300 RNs by June 2011. The program has been successful so far in remaining on target by training 30-45 new preceptors each month since January 2010.
“My goal and vision as NYSNA LBU executive chair is to see the successful implementation of this two-day standardized program as the leading clinical coaching model adapted at every NYSNA facility,” said Richardson.
For more information on the model used at Maimonides, visit the VNIP website at www.vnip.org.