To work as a coach, experienced nurses must have been preceptors for at least two years and demonstrate additional social and leadership skills, Ghidini said. “We looked at not only their clinical expertise but more so their communication skills,” she said. “(They need) exceptional interpersonal skills and strong listening skills to be able to provide actionable, in-the-moment feedback.” New RNs participate in the program for a minimum of one year and a maximum of two years, depending on how long their orientation is and their specialty, Davis reports. Jimmy Esposito, an RN who has been a coach since 2019, said the program helps new RNs feel supported and evenly assess each situation.
The program was designed to offset the health system’s preceptor program, Ghidini said. “It’s at that juncture when the preceptor is no longer by side, and they’re brand new into practice,” she said. “It’s probably the most vulnerable time for new nurses.” The inspiration for the program came after an influx of new nurses came to Yale New Haven in 2013, according to Jennifer Ghidini, director of nursing at Yale New Haven Hospital. “We asked ourselves, ‘how are we going to onboard and continue to retain these nurses?’ and this was a modality to support that,” she said.
Through the program, experienced nurses serving as personal coaches oversee up to 10 new nurses at a time, though the number can change depending on hiring, Davis reports. The coaches work 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Monday through Friday and offer 24/7 support on weekends, Ghidini said, “to cover the vulnerable times in the organization there’s not as much support.” Details on the program
According to a qualitative survey of 422 respondents, Ghidini said the program is accomplishing what it set out to do. The survey found that at least three-quarters of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that the program improves RN confidence in caring for high-risk patients, eases the transition from orientation to clinical practice, supports RNs transition from orientation to being independent, enhances patient safety by helping RNs identify which patients need immediate care or escalation of care, and shows how to escalate care safely and effectively. Positive results
“They have a constant support system throughout the night shift, and they know that if they get into any kind of situation where they’re uncertain or overwhelmed, … they have a resource that they can rely on,” he said. “And we can reinforce the standards of practice for the hospital, as well as be that mentor and emotional support for them.” Infographic: The experience-complexity gap
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