Graduating and Becoming a Nurse

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Graduating and Becoming a Nurse

The field of nursing is both a science and an art. New nurses graduate with, at least, acceptable basic competence. They are expected to have the ability to effectively communicate and make decisions in a complex environment with multiple demands on their practical comprehension. However, they usually lack the experience to apply this learned theory. This limited knowledge results in anxiety and difficulty in transitioning from the role of student to leader. How these students can best learn these skills is a topic that has come under considerable debate. We know that most become overwhelmed with multiple tasks and not able to prioritize with critical thinking in a fast pace acute hospital. This begs the questions: How do we make that transition phase easier for them and the staff around them? How do we get the doing and thinking to intertwine together? The article, Coaching for competence, gives one example of how to foster critical thinking skills in novice nurses as well as establish a culture that would help its entire staff to grow and excel together.

Model concept and implementation

The nursing leadership of a 37-bed acute medical unit at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN faced a challenge when they had significant numbers of new nurses hired during the year for a busy acute care general medical unit. The original policy for new nurses involved a six to eight week orientation with a preceptor who assisted new hires to assume complete care for an increasing number of patients. Once the new hire was handling a full patient case load independently, a “resource nurse” with her own full patient assignment remained available for direction and guidance for the next four weeks. While this orientation process was considered extensive, an extended learning period was needed due to the number of new hires. For this reason, the leadership team began to devise a plan to blend the acts of thinking with doing. This plan needed to encourage and stimulate the new nurses to develop “self-directed, self-correcting, and innovative strategies in dealing with challenges”. They were to develop competency and critical thinking in the novice nurses to a higher level of professional thinking. Thus, a coaching concept model was developed by the nurse manager, clinical nurse specialist, and nursing education specialist

Preparing to initi...

... middle of paper ... job satisfaction are significantly enhanced where critical thinking skills are fostered and promoted. In today’s environment of nursing staff shortages, budget constraints and a higher patient acuity, this is no small task to accomplish. However, it is still our primary responsibility in our profession to take the actions necessary to enhance our practice. Rather than being discouraged over the reality of our situation, we should become more creative in our solutions. This creativity was expressed in development of the coaching model. Finally; we found that nursing units that promote critical thinking, professionalism and cohesion will result in higher staff retention rate


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Nelson, J., Apenhorst, D., Carter, L., Mahlum, E., & Schneider, J., (2004) Coaching for Competence. Medsurg Nursing, 13(1), 32-35.

Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. (5th ed.). (2003). Washington DC: American Psychological Association.

Wright, A. (2002) Precepting in 2002. The Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing, 33(3),

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