Hospital Emergency Departments are fast-paced, challenging environments requiring quick, critical thinking. A new program initiated with the support of the ThedaCare Family of Foundations aims to improve recruitment and retention of Emergency Department (ED) nurses at seven ThedaCare hospitals.
“Recruiting and retaining nurses for Emergency Departments is a challenge for every hospital,” said Audrey Rosin, RN, manager of Emergency Services at ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah. “This new Emergency Nurse Residency Program aims to provide the training and experience nurses need to confidently care for the patients coming to the ED.”
Rosin said there is an opportunity to provide additional training, orientation and onboarding to help nurses be more successful.
“This new Emergency Nurses Residency Program shows that ThedaCare and the ThedaCare Family of Foundations are committed to insuring that our ED nurses are well prepared and well educated,” she said. “Our staff is excited to learn that this program is available to help support our teams.”
The Emergency Nurses Residency Program (ENRP), developed by the national Emergency Nurses Association (ENA), is an 18-week program focused on building decision-making skills, improving clinical judgment, reducing burnout, and assisting in acclimation to the ED. It includes four weeks of classroom instruction interspersed with hands-on simulation during which time the nurses will engage with experienced ED nurses and do on-the-job shadowing.
“When their classroom training is focusing on a specialty area, such as cardiology or neurology, the nurses will spend four hours in the Cath Lab or working on the Neuro unit, for example, as part of job shadowing,” Rosin explained. “After that, they’ll work with clinical preceptors – that is, experienced practitioners who facilitate the application of theory to practice – from week 6 to week 18, after which they will be prepared to manage patients as a new ED nurse.”
Rosin said the journey to implement the program began in early 2022 when ThedaCare leaders began exploring ways to help retain Emergency Department nurses. ThedaCare determined the best approach would be to embrace a new system-wide training program.
“I had been researching how other hospitals and academic medical centers were developing their ED training,” Rosin said. “One of the biggest challenges to creating educational content is that clinical care and medicine changes all the time. What we knew a year or two ago might be very different, so it takes a lot of manpower to keep the educational content updated.”
Then, in May 2022, the ENA announced its ED residency program.
“Everything kind of fell into place at that time.” Rosin said. “I presented the program to the Chief Nursing Officer and the Vice President of Nursing Excellence & Clinical Education, as an opportunity for our EDs. They were both excited. I then reached out to the ThedaCare Family of Foundations. I was hoping this type of program would be something the Foundation would be willing to support because of the potential long-term benefits.”
The ThedaCare Family of Foundations agreed the program directly aligned with the ThedaCare System goals of hiring and retaining the best talent and increasing patients’ access to expert, local care.
“We quickly saw the benefits this program could provide to our patients, families and our nursing staff,” said Amanda Charais, CFRE, Regional Development Director with the ThedaCare Family of Foundations. “The program’s goals support retaining the best team members, improving recruitment strategies and developing a highly-skilled nursing workforce to care for our community members at their most vulnerable times.”
The initial cohort of nurses to be trained will begin studying in early June 2023, with nurses from Appleton, Neenah, Shawano and Waupaca participating.
“We understand it will likely take two to three years to fully experience the benefits of this program,” Rosin said. “I’m encouraged that I’ve already noticed our ED nurses with 10 to 12 years of experience engaging with the program. They are excited to be teaching the content to our new nurses, and they’re learning new things, too.”
She added that the ENRP is now the new standard for onboarding a nurse to any of the ThedaCare EDs to ensure nurses have the most up-to-date education. The goal is to have two to four cohorts per year to ensure there is a pipeline to fill ED nursing needs at all hospitals.
“We are so grateful for the support we are experiencing for this program,” said Rosin. “From leadership to the ThedaCare Family of Foundations, it is empowering our teams to continue to find new ways to provide the best care for our patients and families.”
For more than 110 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to improving the health and well-being of the communities it serves in Northeast and Central Wisconsin. The organization delivers care to more than 600,000 residents in 17 counties and employs approximately 7,000 health care professionals. ThedaCare has 180 points of care, including eight hospitals. As an organization committed to being a leader in Population Health, team members are dedicated to empowering people to live their unique, best lives. ThedaCare also partners with communities to understand needs, finding solutions together, and encouraging health awareness and action. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts about a patient’s care. ThedaCare is proud to partner with Children’s Wisconsin and Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin health network to enhance convenient access to the most advanced levels of specialty care. ThedaCare is a not-for-profit health system with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs, as well as primary care.
For more information, visit thedacare.org or follow ThedaCare on social media. Members of the media should call Cassandra Wallace, Public and Media Relations Consultant at 920.442.0328 or the ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah switchboard at 920.729.3100 and ask for the marketing person on call.