HealthMay 18, 2023

How academia and practice can partner to prepare new nurses

Educating new nurses and orchestrating their transition into practice has grown increasingly complex. As nurse educators prepare the next generation of practice-ready nurses, they must consider how today’s nursing experience gap — resulting from experienced nurses leaving the bedside, moving on to other roles, or retiring — affects practice readiness, exploring how academia and practice can collaborate for a smooth and safe transition.

In this webinar moderated by Anne Dabrow Woods, DNP, RN, CRNP, ANP-BC, AGACNP-BC, FAAN, and Chief Nurse of Health Learning, Research & Practice, Wolters Kluwer, a panel of experts weighs in on the challenges of “preparing the next generation of practice-ready nurses.” The panel discusses the pitfalls resulting from the experience gap and other challenges. They explore the role of technology to help provide more upfront clinical training and ways to collaborate, ensuring new nurses get the support they need to safely care for patients.

Changes in the new nurse transition process

Opening the discussion, Woods emphasizes how the new nurse transition process has changed, noting that “we have new graduate novice nurses who are being trained in healthcare organizations by nurses who only have a few years of experience.” To close this “experience gap,” she asks, “How can nurse faculty and those in healthcare organizations collaborate and partner to facilitate the successful transition from new nurse to practice-ready nurse?”

“It’s obvious that academia or practice alone cannot ensure nurse competency; it must be a partnership. Healthcare organizations that partner with academia through formal academic/practice partnerships where the students spend more clinical time within a healthcare organization and have oversight by preceptors and faculty with dual academic/practice appointments have demonstrated success in better preparing graduates and preventing attrition.”
Anne Dabrow Woods

Panelists participating in the discussion include Kenya Beard, Associate Provost for Social Mission and Academic Excellence at Chamberlain University; Marilyn Orman, Selma English Professor of Nursing at Duke University School of Nursing; Tim Bristol, Faculty Development and NCLEX Curriculum Design Specialist; and Candace Griffin, Executive Director of Clinical Education and Professional Development with Banner Health. 

New approaches to nursing education

Dr. Beard, EdD, AGACNP-BC ANEF, FAAN, starts the discussion, acknowledging that undergraduate nursing faculty must change how they teach, largely driven by the launch of the Next-Generation NCLEX exam and AACN Essentials. “At a minimum, the changes should inspire a pedagogical paradigm shift that’s empowering and builds on one’s prior successes and intellectual capacity,” she explains. “This includes organically supporting clinical reasoning by allowing students to discuss their concerns and reason through actions.” 

Dr. Orman urges educators in both academia and practice to reference recent scholarly articles documenting the latest teaching changes. “The literature on clinical judgment has been very clear that it has to start from day one and be integrated into the curriculum systematically. These new articles provide strategies that are effective for doing that, as well as how to build teaching strategies for clinical judgment.”  

Says Dr. Bristol, while these changes aren’t coming fast enough, “what is changing is the landscape,” driven by the actions of the National Council and AACN, which are “arriving at competency-based essentials at the same time.”

Of course, translating this to practice is easier said than done, especially given the shortage of faculty and clinical nursing sites for live, hands-on training. The presenters unanimously agree that more use of technology is essential to help fill this gap, both in nursing curriculums and when graduates enter practice.  

Griffin, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, says that while technology is not “a one-to-one replacement,” it is critical in the practice environment. She explains that Banner has “one of the largest simulation centers connected to a healthcare organization,” and training employees is used to screen new graduate hires. “When they come in, we do a baseline assessment. The simulator experience allows us to individualize our orientation and learning experience.” 

Improving collaboration and partnerships

In addition to technology, Woods raises the need to partner and open the lines of communication. “How do we improve collaboration?” she challenges the panelists.

Says Bristol, “We have to identify what prevents new graduates from being practice-ready and address those factors, which hinge on shared vision and expectations. Adds Beard, “Hopefully, that vision is about advancing health equity,” making partnerships between practices and academia “intentional in ways that advance health equity.” She identified nurse residency programs as one output of practice-academic partnerships. 

In addition to the residency programs, Beard emphasizes the need for faculty residency programs. “How do we collaborate in ways that produce not only a transition program for new graduates but also new faculty who come from practice settings? We need to think about how we give faculty the support they need.”

Dr. Orman notes that the ability to work together virtually greatly facilitates partnerships, citing an example in Kansas where this is being used to keep faculty and clinicians. “They actually exchange their clinical nurse specialists and managers for faculty who do clinical teaching on a rotating basis.” With this model, she explains that the staff tends to go back for further education, which also benefits patient care.

Adds Dr. Bristol, more use of simulation also provides the opportunity to do crossover training. “We work with a lot of rural schools that serve critical access hospitals,” he explains, citing one small school in rural Minnesota that got a grant for a new simulator because they agreed to partner with their small-town hospital. “They share the simulator and the space and do some activities together.”

From the practice perspective, Griffin agrees with the need for shared competency models across the board, calling it a “win-win” for everyone. “By the time you transfer that student into practice, they’ve already gotten a lot of clinical experience. They can come into the practice setting and really kick the ball out of the park.”

Because nursing is the largest healthcare workforce, the group collectively acknowledges that it is hard to drive these and other types of changes; however, “we can serve as exemplars,” says Beard, adding that if academia and practice effectively collaborate, “there will be nothing stopping us.”

To hear the full discussion, access the webinar on-demand and explore nursing education solutions from Lippincott.

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