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Speed-dating process helps RWJ Somerset find nurse extern matches

When Kerry Norell, MSN, EdD, RN, CEN, nurse manager of the neuroscience pavilion at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset (N.J.) met nursing student Elizabeth Dransfield, RN, she had quite a positive reaction.

“She’s the one!” Norell said.

The January 2013 meeting with Dransfield provided Norell with a perfect match, one of many that have come from RWJ Somerset’s nurse extern meet and greet events for prospective externs.

The hospital has been offering a nurse extern program since 1993 that has resulted in more than 100 annual applications, including from as far away as Texas and California, for 10 positions. The meet and greets are conducted in January during nursing schools’ winter breaks, allowing students to meet face to face with the managers.

Because close to 100 students participate in the two-hour event, a speed-dating process was introduced so managers could interact with students in a more controlled environment. “Having the meet and greet provided good insight into the personality of the students before the actual interview process started,” Norell said.
The hospital’s auditorium was set up so managers/preceptors were at individual tables with candidates, conducive for quiet, informal conversation.

The groups spent eight minutes with each other to ask questions. A bell rang to signal their meeting was over. Students then left the tables so managers and preceptors could discuss whether the student was a potential candidate for an interview before meeting the next student two minutes later.

Preceptor Angela Hamilton, RN, (from left) works with Elizabeth Dransfield, RN, and nurse manager Kerry Norell, RN, at New Jersey’s Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset. Dransfield was hired by the hospital after taking part in the RWJ Somerset nurse extern program.

Kathleen Marsh, RN, a preceptor for the nurse externs, was paired with Norell during the meet and greet. “Having the opportunity for conversation rather than an interview allowed the true character of the student to emerge, so a better selection could be made among the vast number of students,” Marsh said. After Norell and Marsh met Dransfield, they agreed she would be a good fit for their unit.

Their comments, along with feedback from other managers and preceptors, provided insight for the selection committee, which picked candidates for formal interviews. Dransfield was among 30 chosen and was interviewed and selected for the program by Norell two months later.

After graduating from West Virginia University a year later, Dransfield was hired by RWJ Somerset for a job in the hospital’s Cardiac Pavilion. “I learned so much,” she said. “This was such a great program. When I returned to school, clinicals were so much easier.”

The speed-dating process put Dransfield at ease. “It was a great experience to be able to talk with the nurse managers during the meet and greet because it gave me a sense of them actually taking the time to get to know me as a person,” she said.
Feedback from candidates who were not selected is being used to make improvements in the process.

Along with Dransfeld, two more of the eight 2013 nurse externs — Kimberly Granai and Tazneem Twells — have been hired at Somerset.

“This program acts as a learning opportunity for the students, and it helps make an easier transition into becoming a nurse,” said nurse extern program coordinator Doris Van Dyke, RN, med/surg educator. “The communication among managers after the meet and greet generates such a sense of excitement after interacting with so many outstanding students.”

Crystal Hobbs and Karen Abbruzzese are nurses at RWJ Somerset.

By | 2020-04-15T09:24:16-04:00 September 16th, 2014|Categories: New York/New Jersey Metro, Regional|0 Comments

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