Long-Term Care

Tip of the week: Minimize stress and help nurses think critically

Contemporary Long-Term Care Weekly, May 14, 2009

Educators’ and nurse leaders’ desire to develop nurses’ critical thinking is undoubtedly more pressing for new graduate nurses. You may wonder why these nurses, who have just completed their education, do not display the qualities and skills you either expect or want. It’s important to understand that new graduates face many stresses as they transition from students to registered nurses, and these stresses can impede their ability to learn and progress.

There are aspects you can add to orientation and for ongoing use that will minimize these stressors for new graduates. Possibilities include:

  • Holding regular support group meetings with fellow orientees.
  • Using a mentor or assigning a buddy (or sponsor) who builds a relationship and will follow the nurse for at least a year.
  • Holding a treasure hunt for supplies or other departments during their first week of work. It will help their confidence if they know where the laboratory is located when someone stops them in the hall to ask.
  • Holding a roundtable of the institution’s staff nurses who have been out of school for two to five years, who can offer tips and support. (These nurses will be experienced enough to have learned, but not so experienced to have forgotten.)
  • Spending a day rounding with a physician or nurse practitioner who frequently admits to the unit.
  • Emphasizing the importance of just “tell somebody” when something is abnormal, even if they do not know the cause or the solution. Alerting someone else will help new nurses learn. Make clear that waiting, assessing, and hoping is not a good solution.

This is an excerpt from HCPro’s book, Critical Thinking in Long-Term Care Nursing: Skills to Assess, Analyze, and Act, written by Shelley Cohen, RN, BS, CEN.

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