Candy Vermett, RN, is no stranger to working in hospitals, having previously worked as a technician and surgical scrub in the labor and delivery unit at Centegra Hospital in Woodstock, Ill., for 13 years.
But after she was hired full-time as a nurse on the med/surg unit at Centegra Hospital in McHenry, Ill., in February 2014, Vermett felt a little less self assured. As a working mother of three with three children, Vermett attributed some of her trepidation to the long process it took to get her education to become an RN. But much of her concern was just the nature of the nursing job itself.
“You’re in a new position, with new responsibility, transitioning into a new role,” Vermett said. “It’s overwhelming, the knowledge you have all of that responsibility now.”
So when she presented with the opportunity to gain more mentoring, Vermett leaped at the chance to join Centegra-McHenry’s New Blood Club.
The New Blood Club offers new nurses — most with less than a year of experience — a safe, welcoming environment in which they can share growing pains, ask questions, talk shop and learn from more experienced nurses and administrators, according to club organizer Debra Harper, RN, BSN, and assistant director of the medical telemetry unit at Centegra Hospital-McHenry.
The program originally was started by two other nurses in February 2012, and Harper revived it on her floor in July 2014. It was expanded in March of this year to include all the floors at the hospital.
Harper said the hospital’s orientation program helps new nurses during their first couple of months at the hospital, but she believed they could benefit from more personalized guidance to help them carry on to reach their second year at the hospital, when data indicate nurses are more likely to remain with an organization.
Harper said the club addresses this problem by helping new nurses understand any frustrations or worries they feel are shared by others in their shoes. “It’s nice to know someone else is feeling the same thing,” she said.
The club initially met twice a month, but that has been reduced to once a month to make it easier for nurses to regularly attend. Discussions at the group center on topics of practical interest to the less experienced nurses, such as PPN administration, core measures, hospital-acquired infections and blood transfusions, in addition to reviews of hospital procedures, policies and protocol.
The 60- to 90-minute sessions are led by veteran nurses and administrators, but the new nurses always are given the opportunity to “freely express what they’re seeing and thinking about in a nice, calm atmosphere, free of judgment or fear of any repercussions,” Harper said.
While the program is too new to judge its impact on nurse retention, Harper believes morale in her unit is much higher because of it. The success of the program has prompted a spinoff pilot program at Centegra-Woodstock. “I wish I had had a program like this when I started in nursing,” Harper said.
Vermett and fellow new Centegra-McHenry med/surg nurse Amanda Armijo, BSN, RN, said the program has helped them gain the peace of mind to know they can make it long term at the hospital. “It makes you more confident,” Vermett said.
Fresh off earning a BSN at Western Illinois University, Armijo knew her first full-time nursing job would present challenges. “You get a lot of knowledge in nursing school, but there are a lot of things that, once you get here, you see you still needed to learn,” Armijo said.
The skills and knowledge she gained from the sessions have helped her “become more confident in some of the tougher skills,” such as PPN administration.
The opportunity to share issues or concerns with her fellow nurses in a pressure-free environment also has helped, Armijo said.
“It’s just made is so much easier to start the job,” she said.