Farmington Hills, Mich., May 17, 2007 -- Nurses are in high demand all over the country and right here in metro Detroit. Nursing is a challenging profession, requiring clinicians to possess the healing touch as well as medical knowledge. New nurses fresh out of college enter the workforce with a lot of nursing theory and science; however, they have very limited experience in caring for patients. At Botsford Hospital in Farmington Hills, every newly hired nurse---RN’s, LPN’s, nurse assistants and technicians---is assigned to a “preceptor.” In April, Botsford Hospital named 62 highly experienced clinicians to its preceptor ranks, bringing the number of trained preceptors to 150.
These preceptors orient assigned newcomers to a specific nursing unit and to the hospital as a whole, teaching Botsford’s documentation system, making staff introductions and working side by side in caring for patients. This support system proves invaluable regardless of a new-hire’s confidence or skill level.
The hospital has used preceptors for years, but formalized its preceptor classes and program three years ago. Nurses receive no monetary compensation for their involvement, so what is the motivation for taking this extra responsibility? Some nurses wish to give back to their profession, others want to ensure that the nurses working next to them know their “stuff,” and others remember how hard the transition from school to hospital was and want to reduce the stress. Regardless, nurses who opt to become preceptors are eager to learn strategies to help them in their mentoring role. As they learn about the process, they gain confidence in their new leadership roles.
Botsford’s nursing unit managers recognize the responsibility and time commitment given by their unit’s preceptors. In appreciation, they grant rewards that might include paying for a membership to a professional nursing organization or the fee to attend a nursing educational conference, or simply awarding a well earned paid day off.
A new nurse is assigned to her preceptor for as long as it takes. An experienced nurse who is newly hired at Botsford might only need a few weeks to feel comfortable, while a nurse just out of school could remain with her preceptor for 12 to 16 weeks. In 2006, Botsford hired 71 RN’s and 96 nursing assistants and technicians. Each had a preceptor to assist her or him in becoming a member of Botsford's nursing team.
“Retention of our nurses is pivotal to Botsford's future as a hospital. Each new nurse represents an important piece of that future,” comments Marge Hasler, RN, Botsford Administrator of Nursing Services. “Orientation is a critical time for a new employee. The better prepared nurses are to do the job, the happier they will be here and the more likely they will remain at Botsford. Our preceptor program allows us to be proactive in ensuring that new employees know what is expected and providing them with the tools to succeed, thus reducing turnover. Constantly having to train new people is a drain not only on morale but also on the hospital’s resources. Preceptors are an investment we make in our new employees.”
“Staff satisfaction and the quality of patient care are directly linked to a stable, expert staff,” Hasler continues. “Instead of spending all our educational funding, time and energy on orienting new nurses, we have more time to devote to developing our existing staff at Botsford.”
Botsford Hospital, an independent, acute care, 330-bed community hospital in Farmington Hills, Mich., was founded in 1965. Nationally recognized for quality, safety and medical education programs, Botsford has received the 2005 Solucient 100 Top Hospitals: Performance Improvement Leaders award and the 2005 Governor’s Award of Excellence for Improving Care in the Hospital Setting (for treatment of heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia) and in the Emergency Department Setting (for treatment of heart attack and pneumonia). Botsford’s Web address is www.botsford.org.
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