In my (virtual) conversations with leaders about the impact of Covid-19 on the nursing workforce, many are concerned about new graduate nurses. Specifically, how to safely transition novice nurses from academia into today’s practice environment. This is a very valid concern for two reasons:
- Without a doubt, new graduates saw significant disruption to their education with shortened, suspended, or otherwise compromised fourth quarter didactic education and clinical rotations. As these new graduates move into practice, they not only missed several months of education, but also lost out on clinical skill building. Many spent months without stepping into a hospital or care site.
- Perhaps more importantly though, the practice environment is dramatically changed due to the pandemic. Care acuity has increased due to both Covid and delayed care, and the incumbent workforce is tired. This includes your educators and preceptors, and some organizations who have fewer staff to help with new graduate education due to mandatory quarantines, voluntary leave, furloughs, and retirements. New graduate skills and competencies are also evolving, including working with virtual technology, team skills, and coping with moral distress, while social distancing requirements are up-ending our traditional approaches to in-person learning and networking. And amidst all this, new grads (along with staff) remain worried about their safety—what a time to join our incredible profession!
As with many things right now, the most effective way to address these challenges and effectively transition new graduates isn’t clear. To that end, the Nursing Executive Center urges all nurse leaders and educators to re-assess their traditional transition plans using the following questions.