Hospitals use internships, mentoring to replenish nursing pools

Jennifer E. Engen

Amid shortages of nurses, hospitals are developing mentoring and internship programs to improve their hiring position in a tight labor market, the Miami Herald reported April 21. 

Nurses have left their jobs or healthcare entirely during the COVID-19 pandemic for a variety of reasons, including stress and exhaustion as well as retirement and vulnerability to severe illness. Hospitals have offered bonuses, increased wages and made other investments in employee retention and recruitment. They have also vied for talent with perks beyond pay and by establishing internal travel programs. Still, recruitment remains a challenge for many organizations.

One strategy hospitals are using to address this involves mentoring and training nurses, according to the Miami Herald.

Take a fellowship program at Hollywood, Fla.-based Memorial Healthcare System, for example. The six-hospital system began the fellowship program in August to train nurses to work in specialty areas such as surgery, intensive care and oncology, according to Maggie Hansen, RN, senior vice president and chief nurse executive at Memorial. The program includes hands-on coaching as well as simulation training, among other components.

“Nationwide, the specialty areas of the hospital are the most complex places, where the sickest patients need care and where we had the most vacancies,” Ms. Hansen told the Miami Herald. “With so many baby boomers retiring and taking all of that knowledge and skill out of the workforce, it was creating an experience complexity gap that we needed to address.”

The newspaper also reported on the intensive care unit internship program at Broward Health Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The 30-week program launched in July to train new nurses for the ICU.

Nicole Puleo, clinical specialist in the critical care department at Broward Health, told the Miami Herald the organization “started to think outside of the box of what we could do to help get new staff and quickly,” and the first group graduated from the program in February.

Outside of Florida, Columbus, Ohio-based Mount Carmel Health System is recruiting for a critical care internship for the summer and a critical care fellowship.

Jerry Mansfield, PhD, RN, chief nursing officer for Mount Carmel, told Becker’s earlier in April the internship is for nurses who are in nursing school between junior and senior year to spend time in the Mount Carmel critical care units, while the fellowship is a more concentrated experience where nurses spend 24 weeks in a structured orientation. The fellowship, which is open to college graduates, involves didactic learning as well as training on how to work within a professional team. 

Read the full Miami Herald report here

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