Nursing is glue holding healthcare system together

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It’s a quiet night in ICU with only a couple of patients to look after, one of whom is just under observation. The not-so-ill patient couldn’t sleep and asked each of the three nurses on duty how they chose nursing and how they came to be in the ICU.

The answers were interesting in that none of the nurses, all of whom had been in the profession for at least five years, were in the department they thought they’d want to be in when they first decided to become a nurse.

“I was certain that I wanted to be in obstetrics,” the oldest (maybe she was 40) nurse said. “I thought delivering babies would be so rewarding. But, after a few months I realized that wasn’t for me. You know, you don’t see the best side of women when they’re giving birth!” She laughed.

The American Nursing Association says that today’s nurses are the glue that holds a patient’s health care journey together. “Across the entire patient experience, and wherever there is someone in need of care, nurses work tirelessly to identify and protect the needs of the individual.”

From the beginning to the end of life, nurses play an incredibly important role in healthcare, there’s no doubt about that. And, from making acute care decisions to providing vaccinations in schools, the responsibilities are varied and diverse.

“Due to the vast range of specialisms and complex skills in the nursing profession, each nurse will have specific strengths, passions and expertise,” ANA says.

The ICU nurse said that it took her several years before she found her niche in intensive care.

Working in a large hospital allowed her to work in several different areas, but what she said she really could have used was a mentor.

Ah ha! That’s the lead-in to today’s subject, which besides giving a thumbs-up to each and every nurse during this National Nurses Week, is about a program that helps entry-level nurses find their niche and get the hands-on skills to perform their duties.

The Nurse Residency Program at Bonner General Health was started in 2015 with four newly graduated nurses. The premise is that the changeover from student nurse to RN can be an exciting time, accompanied by apprehension and fear so how do we facilitate the transition?

“Nurse residents spend a two week rotation in each of our nursing departments, including the Intensive Care Unit, Emergency Department, Post-Partum and Labor and Delivery Department, Medical/Surgical Department and the Surgical Services Department,” BGH’s ICU and Cardiopulmonary Manager and Nurse Resident Manager, Franci Marks, RN BSN said.

“After their two week rotations, the resident is able to choose the area in which they want to specialize in one of those departments. They are then put through a comprehensive clinical orientation program, including specialty certifications and classes required for their area. This clinical orientation is combined with online webinar training for ‘softer’ nursing skills, such as time management, or how to deal with conflict resolution,” she said.

This program partners with The University of Iowa’s Online Nurse Residency Program that creates a national network for nurse residents to communicate with each other to share experiences and expertise. Some of the varied topics include assessment and critical thinking; legal issues and documentation; work- life balance as well as best practices.

“BGH has had positive success in this program. “We have trained 13 nurse residents and have filled many vacancies in areas which are typically very difficult to recruit into. The nurse residents have been very well received in each department, and have become a valuable part of our nursing teams,” Marks said.

“Nursing is a profession that embraces dedicated people with varied interests, strengths and passions,” BGH’s CEO Sheryl Rickard said. “We witness our nursing staffs’ dedication to safe, compassionate, quality care every day.”

“I applaud all of you for your professionalism, your experience, and the talent that you bring to the daily delivery of care. You’re here for our patients and the hospital is a better place because of you,” she said and I couldn’t agree more! Happy Nurses Week.

Kathy Hubbard is a member of Bonner General Health Foundation Advisory Council. She can be reached at

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