Michael Clarke: Room to Grow

When Michael Clarke stepped into the role of Director of Nursing Education this spring, he brought with him his years as a nurse leader on a cardiac unit, and some specific ideas for how to better connect educators and bedside nurses. The first, a mobile app that will alert nurses to classes and other opportunities, will launch this fall. He’s also bringing simulations and other training onto the unit instead of just presenting in a classroom. Clarke sees more room to grow.

One of the reasons nurses have so much opportunity to grow and develop their practice at the Hospital Center today is the robustness of our Nursing Education Department. This past year, we provided more than 1,200 hours of live instruction in more than 28 core courses, and taught more than 2,700 learners in our classrooms. We have a course catalog on StarPort with more than 50 regular programs — everything from a monthly eight-hour basic dysrhythmia interpretation class to specialties in burn nursing or LVAD management. For experienced nurses, we teach classes in clinical coaching and resource nursing. We also orient patient care technicians.

That doesn’t even include our quarterly bridge programs, which give nurses a comprehensive and mentored experience in a new nursing specialty. We also train all nurses at the Hospital Center when we roll out new equipment, as we did with the new Pyxis® medication management technology and will be doing with the launch of MedConnect III next year.

I would say our nurse educators are key to the success of nursing here, and key to the care of our patients. We are often the people nurses and leaders turn to when they have questions, when they need to learn how to do something, or when they need to change something that isn’t working well.

Luckily, we have a group of really smart and dedicated nurse educators who want to do the best job for nurses. They spend countless hours preparing, and they run exceptional programs. Our goal is to also be as responsive as possible to the learning needs of the nurses at Hospital Center. Sometimes that may be arranging an in-service and sometimes it may mean facilitating a specialty certification review course.

Even with all we do, there is still a lot of room to grow. We have special skills days, and I think we can reach even more nurses by developing more innovative ways to let them know when programs are happening. We also know it’s a struggle to get nurses off units into classrooms, so we started bringing simulations to the units in an attempt to reach them where they are working.

As part of their residency program, first-year nurses conduct an evidence-based practice project. There’s a lot of potential there for developing these into presentations at conferences, as a team from 4NW recently did at the University HealthSystem Consortium (UHC) conference.

Probably our biggest opportunities will be in the new simulation lab, which should be up and running by the second half of FY16. This will give us a more robust tool to challenge nurses in a “live” environment.

Our focus is, and always will be, making certain Hospital Center nurses have the opportunities they want to grow and develop new skills and refresh core skills. We are all about creating the lifelong learning environment our nurses deserve.