Nurse Residents Present Problem-Solving Proposals

July 27, 2015

By Mercy's Madelynn Innes

In hospitals across the nation, nurse residency programs are emerging as a “best practice,” and Mercy Hospital Springfield is no exception. In the last year, the hospital launched Mercy's first residency program.

Knowing the transition from the classroom to the patient room an be a little rough at first, hospitals like Mercy's are adopting yearlong residency programs so new nurse graduates can begin working in patient care alongside experienced preceptors. Mercy also provides classroom training on unit-based competencies, as well as topics applicable for every clinical area. As a result, explains Mercy’s Nurse Residency Coordinator Bonnie Clair, RN, MSN, residents are supported as they develop effective decision-making skills related to clinical judgment and performance.

“The program we have at Mercy Hospital Springfield is committed to transitioning graduate nurses to professional, independent practice,” Bonnie added. “We solicit regular feedback and suggestions from our residents in order to maintain relevancy and ensure that we’re addressing any concerns they encounter while preserving our commitment toward evidence-based professional practice.”

Springfield’s 2014 summer nurse residents were the first to complete our program. As part of their curriculum, their final assignment was to identify problems in a unit, cluster or a process and explore it as a performance improvement project. Over the last three months, each team conducted their own research, proposed improvements and projected their anticipated outcome. Last month, Mercy proudly showcased their work: a wide variety of problem-solving proposals.

“I’m incredibly proud of each nurse resident,” Bonnie said. “They developed outstanding proposals.”

“Our first cohort of nurse residents have exceeded my expectation with the quality and professional presentation of their projects,” added Chief Nursing Officer Lisa Person. “The projects encompassed thought, research and collaboration to impact patient care. The new nurses have contributed to the elevation of professional nursing practice within Mercy Springfield.”

As nurse residents stood beside their poster displays, the hallway through McAuley Conference Center filled with Mercy staffers anxious to learn more and ask questions. “The variety of projects was very impressive. I haven’t seen that kind of engagement and teamwork in years,” said Dr. William Sistrunk. “I’m very excited about our residency program – it’s a fantastic opportunity for our nurses to work on projects as teams and develop better ways to take care of our patients.”

As an example, nurse residents Susie Bock, Misty Starks and Bryan Sowder focused on implementing Turn Teams on their Surgical Orthopedic Unit. Researching best practice guidelines, they developed their project first by reviewing the stages of skin breakdown, which they reviewed with their nursing team before developing a turn team schedule.

After the teams began following the set schedule, Bryan noted, “I was surprised to see how much less calazime cream and fewer coccyx dressings we used. Creams, pads and equipment are often necessary, but scheduled turning has limited the number of times we as a unit had to use anything other than pillows and positioning.” Noting the success of this project, Nurse Manager Whitney Jackson, RN, said, “We haven’t had any instances of skin breakdown in our unit since we implemented turn teams.”

In time, Mercy’s Nursing administration plans to expand the residency program across Mercy. For now, all graduate registered nurses at Mercy Hospital Springfield will be hired into the residency program, and their problem-solving poster project will continue to be included in the curriculum.

“The Summer Cohort 2014 Poster Presentation demonstrated, beyond measure, the spirit of inquiry that drives nurses to want to know more, to do better, to help others and to ultimately make a difference in both the lives of our patients as well as in the nursing profession as a whole,” concluded Kim (Westberg) Marple, BSN, RN-BC and chair of Mercy’s Professional Development Council. “This talented, intelligent group is off to a wonderful start in their careers, and we’re excited to see what is in store for them as they continue on in Mercy.”