How 1 health system gets new nurses to the bedside sooner

Hartford (Conn.) HealthCare Central Region's student nurse advanced pipeline program provides individuals enrolled in local nursing programs with a four-part progression plan that steers them toward their first full-time hospital position after licensure.

The program, conceived in 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and rolled out in 2022, offers student nurses the ability to be part of the healthcare team at the earliest stages of their training, Roxanne Aldi-Quaresima, MSN, APRN, regional nursing director of nursing professional development and education, told Becker's.

In their first and second years of nursing training, students get a close-up view of the inner workings of a hospital by working in patient experience associate roles. When they get to their junior year, Ms. Aldi-Quaresima said, they become student nurse technicians. As rising seniors, they have the opportunity to enter a student nurse fellowship, which truly gets them ready for their careers.

"And then comes where we see our return on investment," she said. "Our goal is to ensure these new nurses are hired within the Hartford HealthCare Central Region and join our team. This succession plan is really helping us to grow our pipeline and get people involved with our culture as early as possible."

Partnering with Robert Weiss, regional business operations manager of the healthcare system, Ms. Aldi-Quaresima spends a lot of time out in the community, at schools and meeting with organizations. Together, they are positioning Hartford HealthCare Central Region as an employer of choice for people who are looking to pursue healthcare careers. 

Mr. Weiss heads up a program to encourage people to take on per diem or part time general operations associate roles — in environmental services, transport, or food and nutrition. These individuals are trained in two of those areas. After a short trial period, if everyone is happy, they are invited to join the staff full-time. Many are cross-trained to help out where needed in these high-turnover departments.

Individuals who have been taking advantage of the opportunity to join the program are 18 and older who are looking for their next step after high school graduation.

"This is all budget neutral because of high vacancies in these areas," Mr. Weiss told Becker's. "We bring these people in to fill shifts that would otherwise not be covered. This also reduces overtime."

The operations associate program also feeds the system's nursing pipeline, Ms. Aldi-Quaresima said, because once they are working in the hospital, some of the people may decide to pursue positions as certified nursing aides. To this end, the hospital's tuition program can help them to get trained.

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