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Norman Regional hires, prepares student nurses

Norman Regional hires, prepares student nurses

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Norman Regional Health System is helping student nurses transition from the classroom to the bedside with its Student Nurse Partner Program.

The Student Nurse Partner (SNP) Program employs nursing students in their last semester of nursing school. The students work in a dual role that not only compensates them for their clinical hours needed to graduate, but also requires them to work as nursing assistants. The program began in March 2021 after Gov. Kevin Stitt and the Oklahoma Board of Nursing recognized extreme staffing shortages that were exacerbated by COVID-19. The policy encouraged partnerships between health facilities and academic institutions to improve clinical education as well as support staff with patient care needs.

The idea for Norman Regional’s program began when Student Coordinator Stephanie McGinnis witnessed staffing shortages. She also saw students’ inability to complete their clinical education due to the restriction of visitors and students from entering Norman Regional to protect patients and staff.  

Since the program’s inception, Norman Regional has had five cohorts of student nurses working within the health system and considers the program to be a success, McGinnis said. 

“Norman Regional has hired 19 nurses from the program with an 88% retention rate, compared to the national average of 72% retention for new nurses,” she added. 

The program is designed to build a nursing student’s confidence with realistic, hands-on experience while also strengthening Norman Regional’s recruitment pipeline of nurses to fill the staffing shortage. In addition, Norman Regional has seen increases in patient satisfaction and employee engagement, as well as decreased onboarding times for students who later graduate and become full-time employees. 

“We’re training not only nursing skills, but also ‘The Norman Way,’” McGinnis said.

The Norman Way is a term Norman Regional uses to define a standard of values and behaviors its employees are expected to uphold. 

Kelia Crabbe, RN, MSN, is a transition to practice specialist who oversees the program at Norman Regional. She works with the schools and Norman Regional nursing staff to help make the program a success. 

“For the health system, this is a recruitment opportunity that brings the student to the bedside with the mentoring of a seasoned nurse to deliver quality and safe patient care. The program process strengthens relationships, provides a better understanding of teamwork and solidifies the career path for students,” Crabbe said. “Over the last 20 years, there has been a gap identified between the practice readiness of nursing students and bedside nursing. I truly believe this is the best approach we have seen to improve the transition from academia to the professional world of bedside nursing.”

The program has been such a success that Norman Regional has been awarded the opportunity to be a virtual presenter at the annual Vizient Connection Summit in September. 

Norman Regional currently contracts with seven local nursing schools, and strategically partners with these nursing schools to have nursing graduates throughout the year. 

Student nurses interested in applying to the program can visit HERE.

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