A Bridge to Somewhere

Nurses at MedStar Washington Hospital Center have the opportunity to sign on to a “bridge” program, an in-depth training and mentoring program that teaches the skills needed in highly specialized nursing practices. “These programs are incredibly popular” notes Michael Clarke, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, director of nursing education. The five main bridge programs—critical care, emergency medicine, perioperative services, cardiac care and women’s and infants’ services—are offered once per quarter. Here, three nurses describe their bridge experience.

Lauren Greene, RN, WIS Bridge, works in Mother/Baby

When I came to the Hospital Center in 2013, I worked on the med/surg unit 2F, but I knew I wanted to end up in the mother/ baby practice. My mom, Gail Coles, has worked there for the past 41 years, and it’s where I was born. The hands-on learning of the bridge program was invaluable. One of the most important parts, I believe, was the simulation modules. We learned how to react in obstetrical emergencies, newborn resuscitation, and even participated in a mega-code before we worked with the babies. The simulations provided me with a lot of exposure and confidence in myself when working in my practice. Great educators were always around to give a helping hand, plus clinical coaches, so I felt there was help if I ever needed it. That comfort of always having help kept me at ease throughout the training.

Jillianne Jackson, RN, OR Bridge, works in Third Floor OR

I entered the OR bridge because I had worked in the pre-operative holding area and the PACU, and wanted a way to learn more about perioperative services. In the OR bridge, you learn about every step of the surgical process, from scrub to materials to anesthesia. What I didn’t expect was the autonomy the nurse has in the OR. You are the patient’s advocate right before they go into the procedure, and then all the way through to the recovery area. You have to be very organized and at the top of your game to be aware of everything that’s going on. They call it “OR ears”— a way of listening to everything at once. What I found I really like about OR nursing is that you are absolutely part of a team. The nurse works in concert with the surgeon, the tech and the anesthesiologist to make the procedure a success.

Casey Jo Collins, RN, Critical Care/Cardiac Bridge, works in CVRR

I entered the bridge program because I wanted to work with increased acuity patients. When I was working on 4NW, we would get the step-down cardiac patients from the CVRR, and that intense environment seemed challenging and rewarding. The most surprising aspect of this bridge is how much information you are required to know. You get more in-depth pathophysiology about cardiac recovery; you learn about pacers and balloon pumps. You don’t even start on LVADs until you’ve been working here for a few months. So this is a great program for nurses who are eager to learn a lot. You also get enormous support. In the CVRR, we work together so closely that every patient is everyone’s patient. Your colleagues want you to do well, they support you constantly, because they want all the patients to do well. They want you to ask questions and learn what you don’t know. It’s been so positive that I see myself staying in this area for a while.