Nursing Preceptorship Helps Recruit, Retain Nurses

The utilization of a preceptorship-to-hire program shows promising results in enhancing nurse recruitment and retention. Students are accepted into this program during the latter half of their final semester, prior to obtaining their license. This program format has proven beneficial in improving hiring and one-year retention rates. Furthermore, there is potential to replicate this program in different settings, where nursing programs can establish partnerships with local hospitals.

The novel preceptorship-to-hire program between a Florida nursing school and hospital helped fill nursing vacancies, improve retention, reduce turnover, and facilitate the transition from academia to practice, a recent study showed.

The study appeared recently in Nursing Management.

The Excellence in Nursing Preceptorship-to-Hire (P2H) program was a collaboration between Sarasota Memorial Hospital and the College of Nursing at the University of South Florida-Tampa. This program catered to bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) students who were midway through their final semester.

According to the researchers, the nursing students expressed a strong sense of belonging among the staff. While each student was assigned a preceptor, other nurses on the unit willingly shared their knowledge and skills with the P2H students. This support from the unit staff helped the students feel embraced by the team.

Transitioning from school to professional practice can be a daunting experience for new nurses. However, this innovative program has the potential to alleviate the stress associated with this transition, effectively bridging the gap between the classroom and the exam room.

What Is a Nursing Preceptor?

Preceptor programs are akin to mentor programs, with preceptorships typically encompassing a more specific and often shorter duration. Nursing preceptors, often experienced staff nurses, serve as invaluable resources to newly employed or graduated staff nurses. In their capacity as teachers, coaches, and role models, preceptors help students and new nurses seamlessly apply their acquired skills in real-world practice settings, facilitating a smoother transition between these two phases of their careers.

How Is This Preceptor Program Different?

Researchers noted that 25% of newly licensed RNs quit within the first year they were hired. Factors that positively and negatively influence the transition into professional practice include the nurses’ expectations, confidence, socialization, and support.

Nursing recruitment and retention is an evergreen problem for healthcare organizations. With the rising number of nurses reaching retirement agethe stage is set for a dramatic transition in nursing where newly graduated nurses replace seasoned professionals.

Transitioning from academia to professional practice is a particularly vulnerable juncture in a nurse’s career. The most successful onboarding programs are personalized to support the transition to clinical practice.

These practices require evidence-based strategies to support the development of critical thinking and clinical judgment. Data from this preceptorship pilot study demonstrated how this unique preceptorship model helped improve nurse retention.

The P2H program was designed to begin when students are in their final semester of nursing school. Leveraging the partnership between school and hospital leaders, the program contained four key tenets:

  1. University officials worked to recruit students for the program, while hospital staff identified practice placement settings and registered nurse (RN) preceptors.
  2. As students were evaluated and selected, program leaders finalized placements, preceptors, and shifts.
  3. Orientation period included a clinical experience with assigned preceptors, as well as check-in meetings with university faculty and the hospital coordinator. Meetings involved sharing and evaluating new nurse experiences and roles.
  4. Students and unit managers discussed potential employment and future directions based on various criteria, including successful completion of the NCLEX-RN. If eligible, students had the option to work in a paid graduate nurse position until meeting all criteria.

Although the numbers in the study were small, the results were striking. Of the 14 students who began the P2H in school, 12 completed the program and 11 were offered positions at the hospital.

Of the nine who accepted a position, eight were hired on the same unit where their preceptorship occurred. Notably, given the nursing profession’s ongoing struggle to retain nurses, the P2H program reported a retention rate of 75%.

How to Re-create an Effective Nurse Preceptor Program

Implementing the P2H preceptorship model can aid in the recruitment and retention of skilled nurses. This model incorporates input from clinical managers and staff during the hiring process, fostering a more cohesive team approach.

According to the researchers, the structured approach of the P2H program allows clinical managers and staff to actively participate in hiring decisions. With specialized areas comes the need for specialized skills, and staff and managers can impart their knowledge and evaluate students accordingly.

To replicate this program in other hospitals, collaboration between nursing schools and healthcare facilities is crucial. The researchers have identified key factors that contribute to successful partnerships, such as identifying qualified prelicensure nursing students and establishing feedback mechanisms. These feedback channels serve to garner support and gather valuable insights regarding program implementation and execution.

Although the pilot program had a limited sample size, the results align with previous research indicating that preceptorships and mentorship programs enhance nursing recruitment and retention for newly licensed graduates.

The distinctive aspect of the P2H program, enrolling students before graduation, holds the potential to assist hospitals in recruiting qualified nurses and adequately preparing them for practice. One of the notable retention benefits is the ability to determine the right fit.

As the researchers concluded, sometimes a student’s initial placement choice may not be the ideal match. Without the P2H experience, they might have accepted a position at a hospital without realizing the physical and mental toll it would take, leading to higher turnover rates and decreased one-year retention rates.

North Carolina Needs More School Nurses To Help Students Recover From Pandemic Learning Loss

Nursing Awareness Days

How Do Travel Nurses Impact Patient Care?

Best States To Work As A Nurse Practitioner (NP)

Nursing Fundamentals: Building a Solid Foundation

Leave a Comment