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Maine Coast Memorial Hospital finds success with graduate program

Allie-Rohrer,-RN,-MCMH.pngAlexandra (Allie) Rohrer, RN, is a new face in the Intensive Care Unit at Maine Coast Memorial Hospital. She was one of five nurses in the graduate program at the hospital in spring and early summer of 2017.
 
“This is a community I wish to serve. We have a great hospital here in Ellsworth, and I feel fortunate to be a part of it,” Allie said, shortly after starting her new position.
 
MCMH and hospitals throughout the state and country, are doing what they can to make sure nurses like Allie don't leave the profession. A national study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that nearly one in five nurses leaves the profession after the first year because the transition from school to work is too difficult; one in three leave after his or her first three years.
 
"It’s vital that new nurses are given support, feedback, and feel comfortable asking for help as they start their careers,” said Ardelle Bigos, MCMH chief nursing officer and vice president of patient care services.
 
There are efforts across the system to recruit and retain nurses and to provide that extra level of support. MCMH’s nurse graduate program, now in its second year, focuses on the continuum of care. Graduate nurses have the opportunity to participate in observational learning and job shadowing in the various units that patients might visit during a hospital stay. As a member of EMHS, they also get to travel to other hospitals. Ardelle says this year’s graduate nurses visited the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor.
 
"We wanted to give them the opportunity to get to know other departments. They loved that opportunity because now they know what some of their patients will experience and they can communicate that with their patients, and that improves patient care," Ardelle explained.
 
The graduate program has specific objectives and timelines to make a seamless transition from school to practice. The program includes regular meetings over the course of the year with the assigned nurse preceptor and unit clinical director. They also meet with the chief nursing officer once a month. “We are fortunate to have a community of great nurses that show their passion for care while educating and mentoring the next generation of nurses,” Ardelle said.
 
The graduate nurses are also asked to keep journals and attend quarterly meetings. Some of the feedback from the students has also led to some improvements, especially in the orientation process for new nurses.
 
The program is still in its early stages, but it’s received positive feedback. MCMH is coupling this program with some other tuition forgiveness incentives to attract and retain nurses. Nine graduate nurses have gone through the program since its creation in 2016.