Mentorship program empowers new nurses

News / General
By Matthew Manor

When you're just out of nursing school, the Emergency Department can be a daunting place to start a career. But thanks to the Nursing Graduate Guarantee (NGG) initiative, the transition just got a lot easier.

“The move from student to nurse is the hardest transition a nurse will ever make,” says Tom Hart, Program Manager of Staffing and Ambulatory Care, who heads up the NGG program. “It can be overwhelming but this way, new nurses have a mentor they can call on to guide them.”

Here's how it works: For six months, recent nursing graduates are paired with an experienced critical care nurse either within the Emergency Department, Post Anesthetic Care Unit (PACU) or Cardiac Sciences Unit (CSU).

By working as team, the NGG nurse develops skills and confidence in a supportive learning environment. Their salary is paid by the Ministry of Health Nursing Secretariat and when their stint is up they may be offered a full-time position within Kingston General Hospital's critical care pool.

Brianne Nelson is one of seven nurses taking part in the NGG program. At just 21, Nelson says she knew that she'd need more than her passion for emergency medicine to become a capable critical care nurse. And the NGG program at KGH was the answer.

“As a new grad, I wouldn't have felt ready to deal with critically ill patients on my own. The NGG is a good way of easing into things. The best part is that I can take my time to learn so I don't feel rushed to know everything right away.”

For Nelson, the mentorship aspect is invaluable.

“It's the most amazing part,” she says. “Even in an emergency situation my mentor will take time to ask me: ‘What should we do for this patient?' and take me through each step.”

When the program wraps in late December, Nelson hopes to be able to take the reins to help critically ill patients.

“My goal is to know exactly what to do without having to think twice. I believe the NGG program can only make me a better nurse.”

Applications for the 2013 NGG initiative begin in the spring of 2013.

For more information, visit www.healthforceontario.ca .