WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Two years ago when the Emergency Department at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center had 25 open nursing positions and no applicants, officials knew something had to be done.
Thus, the ED Academy was born.
“We decided we needed to start training our own ED nurses in order to retain them,” said Michelle Collins, R.N., unit manager. “We had a lot of interest, with applicants from South Carolina, Virginia and Iowa and locally as well.”
The Academy started in July of 2009 with 10 new nursing graduates who applied to the six-month training program. All 10 are female with some coming to nursing as a second career; two of them began at Wake Forest Baptist as nurse assistants. All 10 successfully completed the program in December and a special graduation ceremony was held early January. The graduates include: Jessica Akers, R.N., Malinda Motsinger, R.N., Megan Taylor, R.N., Kristina Hutchens, R.N., Laura Newey, R.N., Katie Martorella, R.N., Christina Livingston, R.N., Sheena Norman, R.N., Natalie Ellman, R.N., and Jessica Welborne, R.N.
The intensive program is structured to be a part of the regular ED orientation program so that participants don’t have to gain the additional certifications and specialized training on their own time and at their own expense – which can often be a barrier for ED nurses. It amounts to a $40,000 investment in each person when all the specialty certifications and education are totaled.
The program was developed by Eve Tuttle, R.N., the unit-based educator for the ED team. It provides the structure and resources to allow an ED nurse in training to learn in a protected environment before assuming full responsibility for patients.
The program utilizes online modules developed by the Emergency Nurses Association, an alphabet soup of knowledge and skills verifications including Advanced Cardiac Life Support, Pediatric Advanced Life Support, Trauma Nurse Core Curriculum and many others. Patient simulation and cadaver training make it an interactive and hands-on experience. Academy nurses are assigned a preceptor and work side by side with this experienced ED nurse who serves as mentor, teacher and coach to help them develop skills and confidence.
Upon graduation from the academy, the new ED nurses sign a two-year contract with Wake Forest Baptist. Following the two-year commitment, the ED will pay for the nurses to pursue national certification in emergency nursing, requiring an additional year of employment.
"The ED Academy provided us with the knowledge and support needed to transition into our new roles as ED nurses with confidence,” said Academy graduate Newey. “I feel much more comfortable having spent six months in the classroom and on the unit focusing on practices, procedures and diagnoses commonly seen in the Emergency Department.”
Newey said it was also comforting to know that so many people were supporting them through the learning process. “I thought it was really great and I feel very fortunate to have been given the opportunity.”
Collins and other ED officials such as Director James Bryant, R.N., believe that the time, commitment and support given to these nurses on the front end of their ED experience will make a difference in the long run.
“Emergency nursing is a dynamic profession that requires a commitment to lifelong learning and skills development,” Bryant said. “It is a great start to what we hope will be a long career at Wake Forest Baptist and our outstanding emergency department.”
Collins said they will begin taking applications for the July 2010 ED Academy this month. “We look forward to having another group of energetic and eager graduates to mold into ED nurses.”