Preceptors help new nurses with what’s not in textbooks
There’s a lot to nursing that isn’t in the textbooks.
“They say 80 percent of an RN’s job goes unnoticed, and those are the things you have to teach and explain to a new graduate,” said Natalie Booker, registered nurse and director of Inpatient Services for Yampa Valley Medical Center.
That’s why new nurses at YVMC and the Doak Walker Care Center work with preceptors when they first come to work.
The individualized program, in which a new nurse and an experienced nurse are matched together, lasts for three to four months, Booker said.
In the beginning, preceptors review all of a new nurse’s charting, write down which medications need to be given, and make sure everything is done at the right time in the right way.
Preceptors also may talk with patients and see how they felt when the new nurse was caring for them, she said. Almost always, new patients have rave reviews for the nurses.
“Most love having new graduates,” Booker said. “(Patients) get a lot and (the new nurses) are very meticulous.”
JoAnne Lewis, a nurse at YVMC for the past 26 years, has been a preceptor for Eve Stephenson, a recent graduate from nursing school.
Lewis said she tries to give Stephenson hints along the way – “things that aren’t in the books that you observe through practice.”
For instance, when a woman is pregnant, it’s important to care for the woman and her husband as a couple, and care should be individualized depending on a patient’s age, history and experience, Lewis said.
“A lot of it is just fostering her independence,” Lewis said about being a preceptor for Stephenson.
And, Lewis said, she learns along with Stephenson. Sometimes Lewis has to look up answers to Stephenson’s questions.
Stephenson agreed that there is a lot to learn outside of the classroom.
“I think your learning really starts once your feet hit the hospital,” she said. Having a preceptor makes the task less intimidating and overwhelming, she said.
Through a scholarship program, some new nurses receive tuition and funds for books in exchange for a two-year commitment at YVMC or the Doak Walker Care Center. There are more applicants than available scholarships, and applications come from across the nation. The scholarships attract people with a wide range of experience and backgrounds, said nurse Bonnie MacFarland.
There are eight new hires already lined up for next year. New nurses are needed because of developing programs, growth at YVMC and the Doak, and turnover, Booker said.
Eighteen students graduated last spring from the new nursing program at Colorado Northwestern Community College. Six of those graduates were hired at YVMC, and two were hired at the Doak.
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