Ask the expert: Supporting new graduate nurses

Nurse Leader Insider, September 5, 2011

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This week, Debbie Buchwach, MSN, RN-BC, discusses strategies for supporting new graduate staff nurses.

Q: My organization does not have a new graduate nurse residency program in place. What are some tools I can use to support new graduates?

A: If your organization doesn't have a formal new graduate nurse residency program in place, you can still provide new nurses with support and resources. Here are some strategies you can use in discussion with new nurses:

  • Organization tools. Ask new graduates to show you the organization tool they use to plan their shift. Review the components of the tool for completeness. If they do not have a tool, provide samples. Ask them to use it during several shifts and then look for patterns, such as whether they are spending a disproportionate amount of time on one activity.
  • Complete shift-to-shift report. Develop three examples of a shift-to-shift report: 1) Incomplete report, missing data; 2) Too verbose and possibly missing pertinent data; and 3) Clear, complete, and concise. The facilitator informs the new graduates that they will be receiving a handoff report for a patient. Instruct the new graduates to rate the report as complete or incomplete, and invite them to give feedback to support their opinion. Follow up with a review of the organization-specific expectations for handoff reports.
  • Prioritize your care. Provide information for a typical patient care assessment, and ask the new graduates to prioritize their care. Ask questions such as, "Which patients should you see first? Should see the more complex patients first or last?" Review the decision-making behind the prioritization.
  • Time-management self-assessment. Lead a discussion on time management. Ask the new graduates to give examples of when they feel they are meeting their expectations, and validate their success. Invite them to ask questions about the areas they are struggling with and share strategies for development.
  • Delegation. Provide patient-case scenarios, and for each one, ask the new graduates what part of the care they can delegate and which part they cannot. Review the American Nurse Association Scope and Standards of Practice for Nursing, your state's nursing practice act, and organization policies.

Editor's note: Do you have a question for our experts? E-mail your queries to Senior Managing Editor Rebecca Hendren at and see your name in print next week! In the meantime, head over to our Web site and view a growing collection of advice from our experts.

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