Nursing Home Staff

How Can New Nursing Home Staff Prepare for Practice?

Upon entering the healthcare workforce, new graduates of the nation’s nursing schools often discover that there is much yet to learn. Even with in-person clinical rotations and hands-on training during courses, new nurses can sometimes struggle to put the theoretical into practice. For new caregivers entering long-term care facilities like nursing homes, facilities experience significant risks. While nursing home liability insurance is designed to protect facilities and their staffs, new-hire training serves to further manage the risks associated with onboarding caregivers. Are your clients’ new nursing home staff hires ready to take on the challenges of a new and dynamic healthcare environment?

Risks Associated with New Nursing Hires

Nursing schools do an excellent job of training the next generation of caregivers. A combination of rigorous coursework and hands-on experience is typical for modern nursing schools. Even with these educational experiences, however, many new nurses report feeling unprepared for delivering care in real-world applications.

According to the authors of the 2020 New Nurse Readiness Survey conducted by Wolters Kluwer, critical thinking and clinical judgement skills are often lacking in new graduates. In other words, new nurses gain a tremendous amount of knowledge during their education, but being able to judge specific patient needs and symptoms is a different matter altogether. Chaotic clinical environments, exposure to new equipment and treatment protocols, and inexperience in working as members of healthcare teams also contribute to the risks associated with new nursing hires. These risks can put a strain on nursing home liability insurance, particularly if an inexperienced nurse commits an error that results in a resident injury or death.

Preparing New Nurses for the Nursing Home Environment

In an article published in the Lippincott NursingCenter®, recommendations for bridging the gap between education and real-world practice were presented. These recommendations also stemmed from the New Nurse Readiness Survey and included strategies for academic and clinical nurse educators to help their students transition successfully. Recommendations include:

  • Developing standardized transition plans or residencies to further expose new nurses to clinical practice.
  • Incorporating practical challenges into the educational curriculum.
  • Utilizing more active learning and simulation to develop clinical judgement skills.
  • Adding education and training that supports the use of empirical evidence to support clinical decisions.

What about nursing homes and other long-term care facilities? What can facility managers do to ensure their new hires are adequately prepared for the rigors of practice with at-risk seniors? Developing a risk management approach for new hire supplements the protections of nursing home liability insurance and helps to keep residents safe. Facility managers are recommended to develop formal onboarding and orientation programs for new hires. These programs can not only shorten the time it takes for a new hire to be ready for practice but can also reduce the potentially injurious or deadly medical error risks associated with new hires. Onboarding/new hire orientation programs should include:

  • Training on specific medical and supportive equipment used in the facility to manage residents.
  • Shadowing with experienced caregivers.
  • Training on specific policies and procedures unique to the nursing home.
  • Safety training focusing on safety-oriented practices for both employees and residents.
  • Security orientation, particularly in memory care facilities, to familiarize new hires with building and resident security guidelines.
  • Workload management training.
  • Details on incident reporting and documentation.

Finally, new hires must be given the opportunity to continue their education – often a requirement for state nursing licensure. Continuing education programs should be geared toward the specific healthcare delivery models and policies of a given nursing home facility. Nursing home liability insurance represents the backbone of any robust risk management strategy. This backbone is strengthened with rigorous new hire training and orientation programs to help nurses gain a foundation of experience that supplements their educational knowledge.

About Caitlin Morgan

Caitlin Morgan specializes in insuring assisted living facilities and nursing homes and can assist you in providing insurance and risk management services for this niche market. Give us a call to learn more about our programs at (877) 226-1027.