Normally, healthcare workers — nurses, therapists, etc. — will complete classroom as well as in-person practical clinical training as part of the education required to practice their specific profession. During the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, we saw healthcare facilities reach out and directly recruit new nursing graduates, many even prior to graduation — but who still had the typical practical clinical experience — to start working immediately at the bedside.
But as the pandemic has continued, clinical opportunities have been limited, resulting in a decrease in clinical training for graduating nurses. These professions have had to quickly adjust to continue classes online in smaller groups and move to more simulation, v-sim and fewer in-person practical hours at the patient bedside. Some universities are evaluating delaying graduation for their healthcare students if clinicals cannot be completed. While educators and students alike are adapting, what does this mean for the future employer — the healthcare facility? We may not see the full ramifications until the May 2021 graduation. So, how has nurse education and clinical preparation during this crucial time shifted, and what is the potential impact to healthcare in the longer term?
Some questions to ponder:
- Will additional orientation and training be needed?
- Will a smaller number of new grads be accepted to facilitate more precepting?
- Will healthcare facilities opt to use other resources like agencies and recruiting companies to recruit higher skilled nurses?
- Can the healthcare facility afford to not have new grads (i.e., retirement and turnover of staff)?
- And for the healthcare professional, how are they being prepared for success in their profession post-graduation?
Higher education institutions and healthcare facilities need to be preparing for the gap that nursing students are facing in their education. They must work together to ensure the success of our future first responders. For example, they can assess individually each healthcare professional for what their specific training needs will be for the specific healthcare facility where they will begin their career. In addition, they can provide preceptors further training on coaching and leading these individuals and provide evaluations and feedback in collaboration with the healthcare professional more frequently.
We are already in a nursing shortage and nursing students are missing significant training opportunities to prepare for their careers. We need new nurses to be successful and stay in nursing. Nursing is a profession critical to all of us and we should pay closer attention to the critical skills needed for the job.