According to a study released by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, about 100,000 registered nurses left the workforce during the past two years due to stress, burnout and retirements, and another 610,388 reported an intent to leave by 2027.
The Hospice & Home Care Foundation of North Carolina piloted an innovative way to increase the pipeline of Registered Nurses (RN), specifically in the areas of home health and hospice care. Golden LEAF funding along with the State Employees Credit Union helped start the pilot in several North Carolina communities.
In 2019, the Golden LEAF Board of Directors awarded $200,000 to the Hospice & Home Care Foundation of North Carolina to support a three-year pilot program to develop both clinical rotation opportunities for RN students and a comprehensive, preceptor-based on-boarding training program to integrate newly graduated RNs into home health and hospice employment.
“While you can specialize in many areas as a nurse, there was not a curriculum or onboarding training process to help nurses specialize in home health and hospice care,” said Judy Penn, Executive Director of the Hospice & Home Care Foundation of North Carolina. “With this funding, we produced the curriculum for nursing schools and a more intense clinical rotation for home health and hospice nursing students.”
Although it is not required, because home health and hospice care is so autonomous, most employers will not hire a new nurse without at least a couple of years of experience.
The results of the pilot program have proven successful.
“The pilot program consisted of seven home health and hospice agencies adopting the on-boarding model and pairing with seven RN training schools adopting the clinical rotation model,” said Penn. “Nursing students were able to participate in rotations in home health and hospice to help more student nurses see if this specialty would be a potential career path.”
Outcomes include 67 RN Students who participate in the onboarding program earning at least one industry/3rd party credential, 114 RN students successfully completing onboarding program through clinical rotation, and 15 new RN graduates who successfully completed onboarding program hired into home care and hospice positions.
Part of the pilot included creating a successful curriculum and an onboarding model for any home health and hospice employer to help a new employee, whether the employee was a brand new nurse or a nurse new to the specific specialty, said Penn.
The onboarding process is an intensive six month process that has been piloted and tested and is gaining attention nationally.
“We were chosen, through our parent association, to win a Summit Award from the American Society for Association Executives,” said Penn. “The Summit Award is the highest bestowed upon an association, and it was awarded to recognize our innovative work to address the serious shortage of nurses in our industry.”
The two-part pilot program is now being used as a model to roll out statewide to home health and hospice agencies to address the existing RN shortages in the industry, particularly in rural North Carolina counties, by enabling them to hire new RN graduates.
“Since the conclusion of our very successful pilot project, we have been working to expand the use of both the clinical rotation and onboarding models in North Carolina,” said Penn. “Many thanks to Golden LEAF for supporting this project, which is now receiving national recognition.”
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