Nurse Residencies in Post-Acute Care Hinge on Leadership

Nurse Residencies in Post-Acute Care Hinge on Leadership

Experience in New Jersey showed programs faltered without strong leaders

Effective leadership is crucial to the success of initiatives like implementing a nurse residency program in a post-acute care (PAC) setting. These programs can be a valuable asset for recruiting, educating, and retaining nurses in a healthcare environment that’s increasingly in need of skilled and knowledgeable staff.

The New Jersey Action Coalition (NJAC) launched a statewide nurse residency program in 2014, achieving a retention rate of 86%. New nurses and their experienced preceptors attended interactive, in-person education. Preceptors then applied their new knowledge to helping their new nurses become competent and engaged. The success of their experiences depended on many things; a nurse leader who championed the program in the clinical setting was often a linchpin.

Effective leaders elucidated the benefits of participation to administration and staff, justifying the expense of sending nurses to the program. Continuing leadership ensured new nurses and preceptors were given time to attend class and to meet regularly, and were given encouragement when difficulties arose.

Perhaps even more importantly, wise nurse leaders were open to ideas that participating nurses brought back to the workplace. For a facility to benefit fully from the education, it had to be willing to embrace fresh strategies.

In the NJAC experience, it became clear that when a nurse leader resigned, the program often lost its main advocate. Negative effects were seen in reduced attendance and support for nurse resident/preceptor activities at the facility, such as performance improvement project work. Nurse leaders provide preceptors with the organizational support for what can be a stressful role. Leadership is also required for the maintenance of a healthy work environment in order to retain nurses.

Qualitative research completed during the project revealed that new nurses clearly see the need for robust leadership. Their comments about the needs of PACs yielded a desire for “visionary, hands-on management” and “teamwork, respect, and kindness between colleagues.” Such insights from new nurses indicate that PACs are ripe for organizational culture change through imaginative and innovative leadership.

NJAC offers this advice for nurse leaders considering a nurse residency program:

  • Know your costs for vacant positions (from overtime to onboarding). Quantifying savings achieved by improving retention via a residency program substantiates the return on investment.
  • Choose preceptors wisely. Look for knowledge, skill, ability to use clinical teaching strategies, and dedication to helping nurses thrive. The importance for a good fit between preceptor and nurse resident was apparent in the NJAC experience and identified by Moore & Cagle (2012) and Richards & Bowles (2012). Once preceptors are chosen, invest in their education. Remember, precepting requires that even the most expert nurses acquire a new set of skills.
  • Dedicate resources for success: time; space; supplies and computer/Internet access. Enlist other professionals, such as therapists, who have much to offer a novice nurse. Modify policies, job descriptions, and clinical assignments as needed.
  • Prepare for bumps in the road and stay actively involved. Check in regularly with preceptors and new nurses to offer advice, problem solving, praise, and inspiration.
  • Explore the wealth of literature available. NJAC and Rutgers School of Nursing have just published Developing a Residency in Post-Acute Care. Its guidance on implementing a residency program and detailed lesson plans will be valuable to nurse leaders/educators working with new nurses.
  • Once the new nurse is ready for new challenges, identify opportunities such as committee membership and performance improvement projects to enhance developing professionalism, meaningful engagement, and retention.

One of the often-quoted pearls of wisdom stressed to nurses in the NJAC program is to “lead from wherever you are.” Implementing a nurse residency program is one way for PAC leaders to do just that. The rewards will be worth the voyage through uncharted waters.

This story was originally posted on MedPage Today.

Rutgers University-Camden Nursing Professor Marie O’Toole Named National League for Nursing Fellow

Rutgers University-Camden Nursing Professor Marie O’Toole Named National League for Nursing Fellow

The National League for Nursing’s (NLN) Academy of Nursing Education recently named Marie O’Toole, a nursing professor at Rutgers University-Camden, a fellow. NLN fellows are selected for their contributions to nursing education — as teachers, mentors, scholars, public policy advocates, practice partners, administrators, and more. O’Toole was one of 16 nurses selected nationwide for the distinction in 2018, recognized for their leadership and expertise in nursing education.

O’Toole serves as senior associate dean in the Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden and is a registered nurse in New Jersey and New York. She began her career serving as a staff nurse at the Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania before serving as a nursing instructor at Rutgers–Camden and going on to serve a 35-year academic career at several notable institutions. She has also served as the associate dean for the Stratford campus for the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey School of Nursing, which is now a part of Rutgers University. O’Toole attended the University of Pennsylvania for her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing, and earned her doctoral degree from the Rutgers Graduate School of Education.

O’Toole tells, “I am proud to be a part of a growing, thriving academic community that strives to make a difference in its home city of Camden and also is committed to scholarship that distinguishes it on an international level.”

O’Toole was the recipient of a Fulbright Specialist grant in education in 2016-17 that allowed her to teach and study at Jordan University of Science and Technology in Irbid, Jordan. The grant recognized O’Toole’s innovative work in developing and implementing global nurse education programs with partners in other countries. In the 1990s, she worked with the nonprofit organization Health Volunteers Overseas on a project funded by the US Agency for International Development to develop baccalaureate nursing education in Vietnam. She also served as the principal investigator for a grant funded by the US Department of Education and the European Commission’s Directorate General for Education and Culture to create the first undergraduate, dual-degree program in nursing addressing the growing need for international recognition of nursing education to facilitate efficient emigration of nurses.

To learn more about Marie O’Toole, a nursing professor at Rutgers University-Camden who was recently named a fellow in the National League for Nursing’s Academy of Nursing Education, visit here.

Rutgers University School of Nursing Receives $12.5 Million to Improve STI Testing

Rutgers University School of Nursing Receives $12.5 Million to Improve STI Testing

The Rutgers University School of Nursing recently received $12.5 million to improve sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing and treatment among people living with or at risk for HIV. In the US, STIs are on the rise with a record-breaking 2.3 million cases of syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia diagnosed in 2017.

Rutgers HIV expert John Nelson, PhD, CNS, CPNP, principal investigator for the new $12.5 million initiative, tells, “Common STIs are not only a major health concern on their own, they are also known to increase the risk of both transmitting and acquiring HIV…Despite national recommendations, routine STI testing and prevention are often lacking in primary care for people living with HIV. Now, with the ongoing opioid epidemic, risky behaviors associated with substance use, development of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea, and decreased condom use by high-risk individuals, we’re facing a perfect storm related to the spread of common STIs.”

Rutgers School of Nursing is aiming to help reverse this trend with a new federally funded project that will work to improve STI screening and treatment practices in some of the nation’s hardest hit regions, especially among people living with or at risk for HIV.

The project, Improving Sexually Transmitted Infection Screening and Treatment among People Living with or at Risk for HIV,  was awarded to Rutgers School of Nursing’s François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) Center.  The $12,417,717 award is funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

To learn more about the Rutgers University School of Nursing’s $12.5 million award to help improve STI testing, visit here.

Seton Hall University Interprofessional Health Sciences Campus Receives Grant to Help Expand Access for Opioid Use Disorders

Seton Hall University Interprofessional Health Sciences Campus Receives Grant to Help Expand Access for Opioid Use Disorders

Seton Hall University’s College of Nursing, School of Health and Medical Sciences, and the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine recently received an interprofessional training grant from the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, designed to expand patient access to medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder.

The Seton Hall University and Hackensack Meridian Health Interprofessional Medication-Assisted Treatment Training Program has been approved as a $404,905 commitment over three years. The project will be led by Kathleen Neville from the College of Nursing, Laura Goshko from the School of Health and Medical Sciences, and Stanley R. Terlecky from the School of Medicine, ensuring that all adult-gerontology nurse-practitioner, physician assistant, and physician students educated at the three schools will receive interprofessional didactic instruction and clinical supervision related to opioid use disorder and medication-assisted treatment plans.

Seton Hall University Dean Marie Foley tells, “Watching the opioid epidemic escalate and the devastation it creates to individuals, families and communities is heartbreaking. Being awarded this competitive grant and having the opportunity to hopefully make a difference by educating future health care providers to be able to prescribe medication-assisted treatment and to gain knowledge regarding the disease will be a most meaningful contribution.”

The project directors remain highly committed to their collaborate partnership to address the opioid epidemic in New Jersey. To learn more about Seton Hall University’s grant to help expand access to medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorders, visit here.

Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey Appoints Janet Gordils-Perez Chief Nursing Officer

Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey Appoints Janet Gordils-Perez Chief Nursing Officer

The Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey recently appointed Janet Gordils-Perez, DNP, RN, ANP-BC, AOCNP, as the new chief nursing officer. Gordils-Perez joined the Rutgers Cancer Institute in 2004 as the director of oncology nursing.

Her prior experience also includes serving as adult nurse practitioner and clinical research nurse at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. In her 13 years of service to the Rutgers Cancer Institute, Gordils-Perez has been instrumental in expanding the Hematologic Malignancies/Blood and Marrow Transplant Programs and the Brain and Spine and Head and Neck Programs.

Deborah Toppmeyer, MD, chief medical officer at Rutgers Cancer Institute, tells

“Over the past 13 years, Dr. Gordils-Perez has had a tremendous impact on our clinical operations. She works tirelessly to assure that the nursing program at Rutgers Cancer Institute is exemplary and supports an efficient practice.”

In her new role, Gordils-Perez will oversee 150 clinical and administrative staff who are responsible for treatment nursing, advanced practice nursing, pediatric nursing, social work, medical health technician support, and nursing and patient education. To learn more about Gordils-Perez and her new position with the Rutgers Cancer Institute, visit here.

Rutgers Associate Dean Elizabeth Scannell-Desch Selected as American Academy of Nursing Fellow

Rutgers Associate Dean Elizabeth Scannell-Desch Selected as American Academy of Nursing Fellow

Elizabeth Scannell-Desch, an associate dean for the Rutgers University School of Nursing-Camden, has been selected as one of three New Jersey nursing professionals to be inducted as Fellows in the American Academy of Nursing (AAN). She is a noted scholar on diverse issues including nurses in the military.

173 nursing professionals in the world were selected for the honor in 2017, representing the nation’s foremost health care thought leaders. Selection criteria for AAN fellows includes evidence of significant contributions to nursing and health care, and a nursing career that influences health policies and health care delivery for Americans.

Scannell-Desch is a retired colonel in the US Air Force Nurse Corps and a former flight nurse who served on active duty across the world from 1972 to 1997. She joined the Rutgers Nursing faculty in January 2016 following a 25-year military career and 15-year teaching career at other universities. During her time in the military, Scannell-Desch held a number of leadership positions including command nurse executive at the US Air Force headquarters at the Pentagon where she directed nursing policy and practice for Air Force Reserve nursing personnel worldwide.

To learn more about Scannell-Desch and her induction as an American Academy of Nursing Fellow, visit here.

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