August 29, 2011 — Vol. 27 No. 34
The U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration awarded two grants for a total of $1.3 million to Idaho State University School of Nursing for expansion of transition-to-practice programs reaching rural nurses across the country through the Northwest Rural Nurse Residency program.
"The Idaho State University School of Nursing is a leader in online transition-to-practice programs," said Deana Molinari, principal investigator for the grant and an ISU nursing professor. "Currently hospital nurses in 23 states attend clinical education for preceptors and new nurses. In October, long-term care, public health, home health and clinic nurses can also choose a 'Care in the Community' residency. In January 2012, rural nurse leaders and executives will enroll in a 'Leadership Capacity Building: Nurse Manager Boot Camp' to develop a portfolio of leadership skills and grow with coaching from expert rural nurse colleagues."
The ISU School of Nursing created the online rural generalist program for new graduates with federal funding from HRSA in 2008. Web-based video delivered classes create classes that reach across the country. Rural experts test the knowledge, skills and attitudes of new graduates, nurses returning to work, and nurses moving from cities to small communities. Participants learn from local preceptors, rural educators from distant locations, and practice complex care with simulation.
"Now I am not afraid to hire new graduates," said a nurse manager from New Mexico. "The Northwest Rural Nurse Residency is a collaborative project," Molinari said. "Many people work together to support the new graduates."
Hospitals or agencies tailor the residency to meet specific new graduate educational needs and educates a clinical teacher called a preceptor to ensure patient safety and nurse competence. The ISU School of Nursing supports the hospital, educates preceptors and tests residents' care competencies. ISU also consults with state organizations and large health care networks to develop transition-to-practice programs. The Institute of Medicine advises employers and schools to provide every nurse with a year of professional development after graduation. ISU provides classes and webinars for rural nurse preceptors, new graduates and leaders to increase patient care quality and safety.
The innovative distance education structure reduces traditional barriers to nurse education. There is no travel necessary. Experts aid leaders in small hospitals and community agencies to develop local programming using national standards. Expert rural nurses from across the United States teach new employees how to assess health crises and manage care using the latest research evidence.
"The content and instructors were wonderful," said Jodie Perry from Lincoln County Hospital, Davenport, Wash.
"It is wonderful that we can share knowledge and expertise across the United States," said Joan Vandekrol, a Professional Development Coordinator, Pella Regional Medical Center, Pella, Iowa.
"We had a very poor track record in orienting new nurses. Having access to this wealth of knowledge and the support you offer will make it possible for us to succeed in improving our policies and procedures," said Kristina Nordhagen, registered nurse, Sheridan Memorial, Plentywood, Mont.
The grant will support additional electives and expands the scope of services offered by ISU School of Nursing. No agency will be too small to provide professional development for nurses.
"Patient safety increases as nurse knowledge increases," Molinari said.
An increased number of agencies and nurses will be served as the project extends to new communities and assists new states to create residency initiatives. ISU will sponsor education in any small rural agency as well as large organizations like the Montana Hospital Association and the Nursing Council of New Mexico to create transition-to-practice programs.