A Publication of WTVP

As a teaching hospital, OSF Saint Francis Medical Center values continuing education. It is with education that good practices evolve to become great. Deeper understanding leads to higher achievement in personal growth, clinical practice and patient satisfaction. Our respect for the importance of education has led OSF Saint Francis Medical Center to develop many opportunities that encourage and support the growth of our current nursing staff and that of future nurses.

Nurse for a Day Reaches High School Students
Last March, 30 high school students enjoyed experiencing OSF Saint Francis Medical Center and the College of Nursing from an inside perspective. Five regional high schools were represented in the first “Nurse for a Day” event, sponsored in partnership with P.E.R.F.E.C.T. (Peoria Educational Region for Employment and Career Training).

The students toured selected areas of the Medical Center and the College of Nursing. In the simulation labs, students were given a hands-on opportunity to experience common nursing roles played out in an educational environment. In addition, students lunched with current nursing students, which allowed for questions and discussion about nursing education and careers.

This program previewed a career in nursing to a select group of youth, empowering them with knowledge to make their individual career decisions.

Nursing Externships
Another successfully established program benefiting future nurses is the Nursing Externship program. This program originated in 1988 when experience indicated that new graduates with additional clinical experience, transition more easily into their professional roles. We are proud to have provided this educational extension through summer employment of 1,100 externs over the past 22 years.

Participation in the 10-week program is highly competitive. This year, 173 applicants were interviewed to fill 55 positions. Selection is based on grade point average, clinical references from instructors, employment references and an interview process. Applicants come from all over the country and this year’s externs represent 15 different schools of nursing.

The benefits the extern enjoys include: more clinical practice and knowledge, exposure to a realistic work shift, an opportunity for working side-by-side with a nurse preceptor, and the advantage of accompanying patients to special procedures and/or surgery. Caring for patients from admission through discharge enables externs to see the big picture of patient care. The externs also refine their skills in communication, time management, prioritization and critical thinking.

“This program has become an excellent recruitment and retention tool for the Medical Center. Approximately 70 percent of the externs are hired upon graduation,” said Kay Shank, OSF Saint Francis Medical Center’s professional recruiter. “The program allows our staff to determine if the individual will be a good fit for our culture as they are observed throughout the summer employment. Regardless of whether an extern joins our staff permanently, this valuable experience creates a smoother transition for each nurse upon entering their professional career.”

Professional Nurse Mentoring Program Assists Career Transition
Scheduled for this fall, the Nurse Mentor program was developed to successfully transition new nurses into the OSF culture while increasing their self-confidence, developing job loyalty and engraining them into the OSF Saint Francis Medical Center family. This three-year program is not exclusive to new graduates, but targets all incoming nursing hires.

The program was customized for our medical center after benchmarking leading hospitals nationwide, collecting input from managers and clinical staff, and passing the quality requirements of our Professional Development Committee.

The benefit to the participating “mentee” is being partnered with someone he or she can go to with innumerable questions, enabling them to learn the process, policies and work culture more quickly.

The advantages of the mentor role include growth as a leader, contact hour credit and Professional Development Program credit. At the fulfillment of the three-year requirement, participants’ units are rewarded with a monetary credit toward a professional need identified on their floor.

“Research shows that when clinical staff is happy and productive in their positions, they are more likely to stay as long-term employees, which increases productivity on their units, optimizes workflows and decreases training costs for the organization as a whole,” said Lorie Helle, OSF Saint Francis Medical Center’s retention specialist. “We see all of our educational programs as effective tools that benefit everyone involved.” iBi