Registered nurses (RNs) typically go through a 4- to 6-year educational program just to get a foot in the door. Some start as a licensed practical nurses (LPNs) so they can begin working, then finish up their degree programs to be licensed as RNs. At any rate, the process for both career paths involve something known as a ‘transition to practice’.
The transition to practice is that core group of training strategies implemented to help nurses go from classroom to real-world application. Unlike some other careers for which the transition is fairly seamless, it is more complicated in nursing. The real world looks quite a bit different from the classroom.
It is critical that nursing students undergo this transition, according to Health Jobs Nationwide. They say employers are looking for new nurses ready to hit the ground running. Employers only have a limited amount of time and resources to get new hires acquainted with how things are done.
Collaborative Training Efforts
RN students generally begin collaborative training in their final year of study. While taking classes online and in the classroom, they are also working side-by-side with veteran nurses showing them the ropes. This is the most common form of transition to practice training.
In some cases, the veterans come into the classroom in order to aid student learning. They go beyond textbooks and charts to teach students what to expect after graduation. Meanwhile, those experienced nurses are still holding down full-time jobs of their own.
Online classes are making these sorts of efforts a lot easier for colleges and universities. Studying online allow students to do their formal coursework on whatever schedule is most convenient to them, freeing them up to spend time in collaborative training in a real-world environment.
Another way to enhance RN jobs through a transition to practice is to offer nursing students built-in certifications. In other words, students are already required to complete certain courses in order to get their degrees. As long as they are doing the work, it makes sense to allow them to earn certifications that might be relatable to that work.
The idea is similar to allowing IT students to earn certifications alongside completing their courses. Certifications are technology- or task-specific, so students are forced to deal with real-world scenarios in order to earn them. Building certifications into training combines the classroom environment with relevant application.
Introducing New Competencies
Perhaps the most important transition to practice training being developed now has to do with new competencies. These new competencies are the direct result of the evolution of healthcare. In short, RN jobs in the 21st century are quite a bit different from those in the past.
A new emphasis on telemedicine provides a good example. With telemedicine becoming more popular, nurses who graduate from school with a bachelor’s degree are several steps ahead if they are already familiar with telemedicine technologies.
Nursing schools are coming to grips with this reality and beginning to explore additional courses nurses can take to prepare them for telemedicine. Exactly what that coursework looks like is unclear, but it is definitely needed. Things are accelerating at such a fast pace that waiting until nurses enter the real world to teach them about telemedicine just doesn’t seem prudent.
Some careers present a very stark difference between classroom training and real-world application. Nursing is one of them. That is why more colleges and universities are expanding their transition to practice strategies for RNs. That’s good because it gives new nurses the real-world skills employers demand these days.