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Letter to the Editor by Lo to Improving Quality and Patient Safety by Retaining Nursing Expertise

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October 11, 2010

Response by Carmelle Christine Lo to Improving Quality and Patient Safety by Retaining Nursing Expertise by Karen S. Hill (August 2, 2010)

Reply by author.

Dr. Hill (2010) noted that our nurse leaders average 50 years of age. This concerns me. Who will replace these leaders in the years to come if we do not develop our newer nurses today? One can read much about the practice of nursing, complete the required number of clinical hours prior to graduation, pass the NCLEX, be hired by a facility, complete an orientation, and finally begin practicing as a nurse.

However, to really become ready to practice independently, a new nurse needs a strong mentor. This mentor must be more than a preceptor. This person must be an individual who is clearly dedicated to the success of the nurse who is being mentored and who will guide the new nurse through the many unexplored yet important experiences involved in caring for patients. This mentor needs to have well developed clinical thinking skills and must be able to consistently achieve positive outcomes for both the new nurse and the patient.

Unfortunately some preceptors today are more focused on teaching tasks than on developing clinical thinking skills. Yet in order to become competent, new nurses need mentors committed to the development of their thinking skills fully as much as to the development of their clinical skills. As older nurses seek retirement, it seems there are fewer and fewer true mentors available. We are losing the resources necessary to build a solid foundation for new nurses. This is an important concern as our patients continue to become more acutely ill.

I hope that the nurses we have at hand are willing to take the initiative and truly mentor and support our newer nurses. Retention and employee satisfaction are becoming increasingly given the high level of management and leadership skills employers expect even from the newer nurses today. We will need to expedite this learning process. Although we once had the luxury of doing this over a period of years, our current times call for more aggressive orientation and development of new nurses, enabling them to quickly become the experts that the hospitals expect and the patients need.

Carmelle Christine Lo, BBA, BSN, RN
Current Master’s Student for Administration and Financial Leadership
Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing
Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, Florida
Memorial Hospital West, Pembroke Pines, Florida (A Proud Magnet Facility)

Reference

Hill, K. (2010). Improving quality and patient safety by retaining nursing expertise. OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing15(3). Retrieved September 15, 2010 from www.nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/ANAMarketplace/ANAPeriodicals/OJIN/TableofContents/Vol152010/No3-Sept-2010/Articles-Previously-Topic/Improving-Quality-and-Patient-Safety-.aspx

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