a nursing supervisor with a young ward nurse standing at the foot of a hospital bed chatting about the medical chart that she is holding . In the background a young nurse checks the dressing pack that she has got out of the trolley .

A strong core nursing staff, confident and competent in their skill set, is crucial for hospitals as the population ages and seasoned nurses retire. But with new nurses leaving the profession at an alarming rate, hospitals are struggling to keep enough nurses at the bedside. A long nursing career starts with a successful beginning, and that beginning for a new nurse is onboarding.

Bambi Gore, MSN, FNP-BC, vice president and chief clinical officer at SimpliFi, says delivering effective medical care efficiently and compassionately, keeping accurate medical records, and interacting graciously with patients and their families are skills largely learned and perfected at the bedside, not in the classroom. This is especially true as many nurses enter the workforce after an abbreviated clinical rotation. 

Hospitals are now recognizing that effective nurse onboarding is essential to provide top-notch patient care and to attract and retain high-quality nursing staff. The success of the onboarding program is primarily attributed to the program structure, the level of hospital support, and the preceptors leading the training. 

What Makes a Good Nursing Preceptor? 

Gore defines a nurse preceptor as “an experienced clinician dedicated to onboarding an inexperienced clinician.” A nurse preceptor is usually an experienced nurse who, in addition to their medical training and experience, is specially trained to achieve key preceptor nursing objectives. Those objectives include imparting their expertise and practical knowledge to recently-graduated nurses in ways that enhance their abilities to deliver excellent medical care in efficient, gracious, and people-friendly ways. 

“Not all good nurses make good nurse preceptors,” Gore explains. On top of being a good and experienced nurse, “You have to have the characteristics needed to mentor and train a brand new nurse.” 

Some of those essential characteristics of being a good nurse preceptor include having patience, being detail oriented, being dedicated to nursing by policy and proper procedures, and being fully committed to setting up a newly graduated nurse for success. 

“In short,” Gore says, “nurse preceptors are good educators and mentors. So, identifying and training a good nurse preceptor is a critical first step to successfully training brand-new nurses and retaining them.” 

How Can Hospitals Best Assist Nurse Preceptors? 

Providing preceptor nurses with the time and proper environment to train and mentor their “students” is critical.  

Too often, nurse preceptors aren’t released from their regular nursing duties to concentrate on mentoring new nurses in a 1:1 or 1:2 ratio. Failing to allow that kind of personalized and narrowly focused training can result in frustrated preceptors who are overwhelmed with their workloads and frustrated new nurses who aren’t satisfied with their training or choice of profession.  

Since replacing a single nurse can cost hospitals up to $90,000, Gore argues that dedicated nurse preceptor programs pay for themselves. 

SimpliFi’s Nurse Onboarding Solution 

SimpliFi has built an innovative nurse onboarding solution for clients. SimpliFi’s Confidence Accelerating Practice (CAP) program places quality, dedicated preceptors into a hospital system to focus solely on mentoring graduate nurses. Training is done at a pace that allows the new nurses to build confidence and competency levels. Additionally, preceptors are assisted through ongoing coaching with SimpliFi nursing experts, and hospital leaders are updated regularly on the program’s success. 

SimpliFi’s CAP program is drastically increasing nurse retention rates and building confidence and competence in new nurses. One client reported a 60% decrease in turnover following the CAP program. Results from another client show that SimplFi’s CAP program produced a 33% increase in nurse confidence – 11 times higher than the increase reported in the client’s legacy onboarding program. 

See How SimpliFi’s CAP Program Can Help You 

The CAP program is gaining traction with hospitals partly because it removes the burden and costs of hospitals creating and managing preceptorship programs. 

“Hospitals are recognizing they need standardized preceptor training,” Gore says. “But creating and maintaining that kind of program is expensive for an individual hospital or hospital group. Our program and preceptor nurses allow hospitals to have excellent training without adding permanent staff and costs.” 

Interested in learning more about SimpliFi’s CAP program and how it can help you train and retain new nurses while managing your costs? Contact us.