Program helps train and retain new nurses

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Abrazo's new program is hiring nurses right out school and shepherding them into their careers. (Soure: KPHO/KTVK) Abrazo's new program is hiring nurses right out school and shepherding them into their careers. (Soure: KPHO/KTVK)

Just four months after graduating from nursing school, Shannen Baggett is caring for patients in the Cardiac ICU at Abrazo Arrowhead Campus. 

But she said she could just as easily still be looking for a job.

"I know a lot of friends that I was in school with, who did not go into the residency program," she said. "A lot of them are just getting their licenses and are starting to put in their first resumes."  

Baggett was able to jump right into nursing by taking advantage of to Abrazo Community Health Network's New Graduate Development Academy and Residency program.

"So, it's identifying nurses while they are in their senior semester of nursing school, supporting them, and mentoring them, and growing them," Dawna Cato, Abrazo's market director of professional development, explained.  

She says once a nurse finishes school, he or she must still must sit for a licensing test and hunt for a job.

"And so oftentimes they are waiting to get licensed and then they are waiting to get, putting their resumes out there, they are waiting to get job interviews," she said. 

But those who get into Abrazo's program receive mentoring and training, both before and after graduation.

"We actually hire them pre-licensure into a nurse extern role," Cato said. 

Baggett said that made a huge difference in her obtaining her license and finding the field that matched her interest with job openings. 

"I originally wanted OR, and then they placed me in the cardiac intensive care unit, and I immediately fell in love with it in the first shift," she said. 

Her advice to those still in school is to take advantage of the opportunity.

"[The program allows] them to experience real-life experience rather than book world," Cato said. "Also they can learn quality care a lot sooner."

Cato said it is about building a healthy future for the community and for the nurses who will help care for all of us.

"So if they are interested, if they are a motivated student, if they want to be engaged, and think about their life-long learning, and think about their professional trajectory before they graduate, then they can apply for the program," she explained.

The state of Arizona has also recognized how critical the need is to train and hold onto new nurses. The Commerce Authority has approved a grant to help 192 new nurses get into the program. Abrazo works with several academic programs for nurses. Check with your school for opportunities.

Copyright 2015 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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