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STEPHENVILLE (July 7, 2015) — In a first for Tarleton State University, the Texas Workforce Commission awarded a $170,787 grant to the Department of Nursing to help prepare registered nurses as preceptors, or mentors, for training student nurses.
The university’s Nursing Mentorship Program aims to increase the number of registered nurses and their retention in area hospitals and is designed to prepare RNs with a unique set of knowledge, skills, expertise and tools to shape Tarleton nursing students’ experiences in positive and creative ways, said professor of nursing and project director Dr. Elaine Evans.
The Nursing Mentorship Program allows Tarleton’s Department of Nursing to provide two five-week training sessions—the first of which was completed on June 30. A second training session at the university’s Nursing Building began July 1. Tarleton assistant professors Dr. Mary Winton and Jean Montgomery are helping Evans with the training.
Evans said the program targeted 10 health-care agencies, providing training opportunities for nurses from Brownwood Regional Medical Center, Glen Rose Medical Center, Eastland Memorial Hospital, Hamilton General Hospital, Goodall-Witcher Hospital, Lake Granbury Medical Center, Palo Pinto General Hospital, Texas Health Resources–Cleburne, Texas Health Resources–Stephenville, and Weatherford Regional Medical Center.
In addition, grant funds provide hourly wages and reimburse travel for the RN attendees as well as pay the costs for the RNs to become nationally certified as preceptors.
Nursing preceptors are assigned RNs who act as one-on-one mentors, assist in student clinical evaluations, and bring immeasurable value to the clinical learning experience by guiding students in patient care and in demonstrating the role of the nurse in patient-care situations, said Evans.
“Licensed nurses voluntarily accept the nursing preceptor role and most do not receive extra pay for the work,” she said. “The Tarleton nursing program uses preceptors primarily in the capstone course offered in the final semester of the nursing program. Students are paired with a preceptor for 120 clinical hours and the same day, night or weekend shift worked by the preceptor.”
Because nursing programs have expanded enrollments due to the nursing shortage, Evans said this has led to the need to increase the number of preceptors. “The Texas Board of Nursing recently identified a lack of nursing preceptors as an ongoing issue for nursing schools and their programs. Adequate support and preparation of nursing preceptors has been identified as key to successful clinical learning experiences for students.”
The Nursing Mentorship Program focuses on best practices, identified in multiple studies in the nursing profession, and include nursing preceptor orientation and workshops on educational techniques, and rewards nursing preceptors for their time and effort.
Funds from the 18-month Texas Workforce Commission grant have helped develop the nursing mentorship program and are being used to strengthen the nursing preceptor and faculty roles through formalized training programs, and developed a team of faculty and health care facility representatives for the purpose of removing barriers, solving issues, and discovering ways to reward preceptors their contributions in order to sustain an effective preceptor/student/faculty preceptorship model, said Evans.
As part of the grant-funded training Tarleton will offer an online course that continues after the grant is completed, said Evans. “We plan to offer two face-to-face training sessions following by development online modules that will sustain preceptor training after the grant period ends, and we plan for this online training program to be sustainable once grant funds end.”
The university’s Nursing Mentorship Program also intends to form a collaborative capacity building team composed of grant project faculty and nurse leaders from each health-care agency partner who will meet regularly to recognize and address barriers to an effective preceptor/student/ supervising faculty relationship, as well as establish a preceptorship reward structure, Evans explained.
“Thanks to this grant, Tarleton will be able to provide a training program for faculty new to the preceptored experience with the knowledge and skills to move from the traditional supervised practicum of up to 10 students in a clinical setting, to one of indirect faculty supervision,” said Evans. “A strong faculty-preceptor relationship translates into positive clinical experiences for our students.”
To learn more about the Department of Nursing at Tarleton, visit www.tarleton.edu/nursing.