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U.Va. Nurse Mentoring Program Ensures High Quality Patient Care

July 31, 2000 -- From birth to bereavement, nurses provide the care that connects medical treatment with patients' daily lives. Often working at top speed for 10- or 12-hour shifts, they make crucial decisions and handle emotional situations. The University of Virginia Health System brings nurses up to that high performance level through a mentoring program that teaches them how to apply their skills on the job.

"The mentoring program helps new nurses make the transition from classroom to the bedside. This allows them to have responsibilities but be in the protected situation of working alongside their mentor," said Marlene Bond, R.N., chief clinical officer and associate vice president of nursing. The seniority scale of nursing at the U.Va. Health System ranges from new nurses at the Clinical 1 level to senior nurses at the Clinical 4 and 5 levels, who are expert clinicians. The latter conduct research studies, teach at the School of Nursing and work in the community. Nurses are mentors at the Clinical 2 and 3 levels, which gives them experience for teaching later.

In exchange for the training, nurses who complete the program agree to work for the U.Va. Health System for 18 months. Brooke Buckley, R.N., is now beginning that phase after completing the mentoring program last December. Buckley, a native of Staunton, decided to switch from training corporate computer programmers on new software to becoming a nurse. She graduated from the U.Va. School of Nursing last year and will start her U.Va. master's degree in nursing next fall, while working at the U.Va. Medical Center full-time.

"Nursing is about people. It's an honorable field to work in," she said. Buckley received mentoring on the medical cardiology unit and has continued working there. "Cardiology is really tough, and I've learned a lot. We have patients with heart attacks, patients waiting for transplants, patients with arrhythmias. The program allowed me to work in the cardiac catheterization lab, the electrophysiology lab and cardiac rehabilitation unit as well. We also received intensive training on procedures and giving medications."

Buckley's goal is to keep working in cardiology and focus on geriatrics. "The aging population in this country is requiring more nursing knowledge and skills. Patients are living longer and when they come to the hospital, they are sicker but stay for a shorter time." "U.Va. is sensitive to the fact that complexity of care has changed. New graduates from schools of nursing need more support and development to prepare them for the challenges of providing professional care," Bond said.

Contact: Catherine Seigerman

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: please contact the Office of University Relations at (804) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (804) 924-7550.
SOURCE: U.Va. News Services


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