ReNEW’s mission is about revolutionizing nursing education to enhance the quality of nursing and health care in Wyoming. ReNEW is designed to help Wyoming meet the Institute of Medicine’s goal that 80% of practicing RNs will have a BSN by 2020. Students can attend the University of Wyoming exclusively, or obtain an ADN at any of Wyoming’s six participating community colleges and then complete BSN coursework at UW through distance delivery. ReNEW is specifically designed so students can achieve a BSN within 4 years.
ReNEW graduates from participating community colleges will graduate with their ADN and be eligible to sit for licensure. These graduates will be prepared for clinical practice in acute care settings, long-term care settings and community-based settings as a registered nurse (RN). Students will have completed the required pre-nursing science and humanities courses needed to prepare them for a successful career in nursing. Clinical experiences are conducted at clinical sites throughout Wyoming to achieve the required clinical competencies needed to practice as a RN. Practicing nurses with an associate degree can then continue on to the University of Wyoming to finish course work as a BSN Student.
The fourth year in the ReNEW curriculum focuses on population health, evidence-based practice, informatics and leadership. While these are included in the ADN curriculum, they are not a major focus. Typically, population health, evidence-based practice, informatics and leadership are the foundational differences between an ADN and BSN curriculum. So RNs completing the 4th year will have broader competencies that prepare them to work in a variety of settings.
As an employer it is important to role model the value of baccalaureate education. Therefore, it is important that nurse leaders in all clinical settings have a minimum of a BSN and are working toward a master’s or doctorate degree. In some circumstances, such as hospitals, the regulatory bodies require the advanced degrees for nursing leaders.
As an employer, having a relationship or partnership with schools of nursing that offer the BSN degree is important in achieving the Institute of Medicine’s goal that 80% of practicing RNs have a BSN by 2020. The Human Resource or Education departments should provide brochures and other materials from nursing programs for employees who have questions about nursing education. Human Resources or Education Department personnel should also keep a current list of contacts with advisors in nursing programs and engage in continually networking with staff and faculty in nursing programs across the state. Encouraging advanced education in job descriptions, supporting employees with benefits such as scholarships or tuition reimbursement, and outwardly rewarding advanced education is critical. Publicly recognizing RNs who have accomplished advanced degrees through formal ceremonies, promotion based on the appropriate level of education, implementing pay scales commensurate with education level, and allowing nurses to display their credentials on badges demonstrates the institution’s commitment to a culture of learning, professionalism, and health care quality.
Clinical preparation for nursing students is critical for the success of the student upon graduation. Over the years nursing student clinical experiences have changed and expanded to interact with patients in the variety of settings in which patient care occurs. Hospitals have the been traditional sites for student clinicals, and are still essential for those clinical skills and abilities that focus on the needs of patients with acute illness. The clinical sites of long term care, assisted living, home care, hospice, clinic based practices, and others round out student learning. Opportunities for learning in clinical sites outside of acute care settings further expands students’assessment skills, allows students to better understand each patient’s unique situation, and provides the students to see health, wellness and prevention from different perspectives. In essence, concept-based clinical shifts the focus of learning to the patient, not the clinical site.
Using a concept-based learning approach, the precepted experience today should focus on helping students understand key foundational concepts so students can apply those concepts in any healthcare setting and in any patient situation with a consistent set of basic competencies. The student should then experience more in-depth orientation to the workplace once they become an employee.
The clinical education experience today will teach the student about patient satisfaction, quality improvement measures, , the importance of case management, how data is used to improve care, application of research and evidence based practice, regulatory compliance, interprofessional collaboration, and understanding of the unique characteristics of various healthcare settings in today’s healthcare environment.
Being a site for nursing student clinical education has so many rewards, including seeing students grow and learn, contributing to nursing education, advancing staff nurse/preceptor knowledge, being a part of students’ future and professional development, and being able to recruit new nurses. No matter how large or small a clinical site might be it is great for students to have these opportunities.
If a clinical facility is interested in becoming a site for nursing students clinical experiences, the first step is an internal assessment addressing such factors as what the site could offer, the number of RN’s who can serve as preceptors for nursing students, and the number of students the facility could accommodate. Then the next step is to contact the nearest college of nursing about becoming a clinical site. Most colleges would have clinical site agreements that can be completed to assure the legal and regulatory aspects of clinical education are covered. Once established as a clinical site it is helpful to attend advisory boards of the colleges, to meet annually with faculty to assess the success of the site, to seek student feedback for celebration and improvement, and to again assess the ability of the site to sustain being involved in nursing student education.
Preceptor Modules have been created for preceptors at any educational program or clinical site in Wyoming. Preceptors are typically identified by the clinical facility and approved by the individual nursing program. Preceptors will experience a learning curve when precepting using a concept-based learning approach, or when precepting students who graduated from the ReNEW curriculum that is based on concept-based learning.
The Preceptor Modules are specifically created to help preceptors across the state prepare for the change to concept-based learning. Faculty and clinical instructors from the community college involved in ReNEW and the University of Wyoming are valuable resources for you and your preceptors. Please feel free to contact faculty and clinical instructors with questions about precepting and the role of preceptors now that concept-based learning has been adopted by the majority of nursing programs in Wyoming.