March 23, 2007

Nurse residency program aims to enhance cardiac care

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Seth Harnden, R.N., right, and cardiac nurse resident Derek Bowers, R.N., work with patient Harold Sleyles in the CVICU. (photo by Susan Urmy)

Nurse residency program aims to enhance cardiac care

Vanderbilt has launched a new Cardiovascular Nurse Residency program to offer comprehensive education to new registered nurses joining the Medical Center.

The yearlong program is designed to provide the proper support for those transitioning as new graduates into the complex world of clinical specialization.

“Cardiac care is a growing need in our community, and it's our responsibility to attract and prepare nurses to handle those expanding needs,” said Debianne Peterman, Ph.D., M.S.N., director of Nursing Education and Development for VUMC. “By offering this program, we are investing in our nurses so they can provide our patients with the highest quality care.”

The first seven weeks of the program provide an orientation to VUMC in-house systems, followed by six weeks of cardiovascular-focused education and clinical rotations throughout the cardiovascular patient care area.

“Clinical rotations in nursing school may be limited in terms of specialized learning, so students may not have the opportunity to focus on cardiac care,” said Shelly Padgett, R.N., nurse educator.

“This program allows us to teach these high-performing students how to be cardiac nurses and exposes them to a deeper understanding of the different roles and responsibilities involved in this type of care.”

The new Cardiovascular Residency program was modeled after the successful pediatric program that has been in place for the last few years. Debbie Arnow, M.S.N., R.N., director of Nursing Education and Professional Development for the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, reports that the Pediatric Nurse Residency program has increased the quality of care for the patients, allowed for better assimilation of staff into their new roles on the floor and decreased nurse turnover rates.

The sevenweeks of classroom and clinic work has included experiences in the Cardiac Cath Lab, Vanderbilt Heart Institute, Cardiac Operating Room, Cardiovascular Step Down Units and Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit, and with ancillary services such as Case Management, Cardiac Rehab, and Monitor Techs to practice basic arrhythmia interpretation.

The students are excited about the program and the confidence that these experiences will bring to their new positions within the cardiac units.

“I really appreciate the thoroughness of the whole program and how we have been able to experience the continuity of care,” said Melissa Moore, a nurse-resident. “We've been able to take from all of the experiences, and that way it's structured so that rotation times are broken up with classroom times really brings everything together.”

After the end of the initial seven-week period, the residents are matched up to one of the Cardiovascular Step Down units or the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit. At this point, the residents receive a unit-specific orientation lasting six to 12 weeks based on placement. This program also ties in to the Graduate Nurse Residency Program offered by Nursing Education and Development for all new graduate nurses to assist them in transitioning into the professional nursing role.

At the end of the residency program, the new nurses will be valuable members of the cardiovascular units and be in a position to provide a higher level of patient care than if they simply learned by on-the-job training.

“I've really enjoyed class time, because otherwise you're so busy with your day-to-day learning and the technical aspects that you don't have time to sit down and get the background pathology,” said Brandy Camperlino, nurse-resident and former care partner.

“Having this training makes me feel confident to ask more questions.”

VUMC nursing plans to offer two Cardiovascular Residency programs each year. The next one starts in July and will expand to approximately 20 spaces, and there are already more than 40 applications.