The overall experience-level of the nursing workforce is declining, as retirement-age nurses exit the workforce and the number of new nurses continues to grow. At the same time, the patient population is becoming older and more complex, with more chronic comorbidities. As a result, more novice nurses must deliver more complex care. This phenomena is referred to as the experience-complexity gap, and if left unaddressed, may put clinical quality and safety at risk.
In 2019, the experience-complexity gap became a reality at UW Health. The organization faced a shortage of experienced nurses and primary relied on new graduates to fill those vacancies. However, UW Health had not scaled their onboarding to meet the influx of novice nurses. Specifically, they didn’t have enough preceptors to support a growing cohort of new graduate RNs.
“The experience complexity gap was realized at our organization and we knew we needed to build up our preceptor program. Preceptors are so important and we realized we needed to do more.”
Nursing leaders from UW Health attended a Nursing Executive Center national meeting featuring research on the experience-complexity gap, including best practices to help update their preceptor program. This struck a chord given their shortage of preceptors. So UW Health leaders decided to revamp their preceptor program with the help of the Advisory Board’s Nurse Preceptor Toolkit. This toolkit has nine tools designed to help organizations update their preceptor support to more effectively teach the growing novice workforce in today’s complex care environment.