A call comes in from an area nursing program, and the voice on the line wonders if you’d be willing to take on a nursing student during the upcoming semester.
You know saying yes would make the caller happy, would provide the student with practical experience working in a real-world health care environment, that helping prepare tomorrow’s nurses is something you “should” do. But you are busy. You have other things going on. And, frankly, making the caller’s day an easier one by taking on their student isn’t your job responsibility, thank you very much.
What’s in it for me? you might even wonder to yourself.
More than you might imagine, actually. Academic-practice partnerships hold benefits for both sides of the collaboration. Sure, educators secure solid, onsite experience to bolster students’ classroom preparation, but health care facilities (and their nurses) stand to gain from the relationship, too.
Here are five upsides to partnering with a nursing school seeking clinical experiences for nursing students.
1. You make new connections. Expanding your professional network expands your opportunities — to learn, to connect, and maybe even move ahead in your career. If you’ve been considering pursuing an advanced degree, having a good relationship with an educator can provide you with a bit of a roadmap on how to move forward. If you’ve pondered teaching, overseeing a student is a great way to dip your foot into those uncharted waters. You’ll gain some good experience, connections, and likely some new insight into yourself.
2. You make future coworkers. Academic-practice partnerships can provide a pipeline of new nurses to your facility. New nurses who are familiar with a health care environment’s culture and procedures often do better during the early days of their career and, thus, are more willing to stay on staff. Lower nurse turnover makes your job more stable, and your schedule less overburdened.
3. You get an education. Learning isn’t all one-way when nursing students are onsite. By bringing on a nurse student, you (and other nurses) can get good insight into the latest evidence-based practice being taught in the classrooms. If you keep an open mind and a humble spirit, you can pick up some practical guidance that can enhance patient safety, quality care, and nursing skills in your practice environment.
4. You get a breath of fresh air. Being around someone on the brink of a new and exciting career can be refreshing and motivating. Student nurses know why nursing is the best profession, they know why the years of preparation are undoubtedly worth it, and they know with their whole heart that patients, indeed, are what matters most. If you listen to them, you stand to reconnect with the wide-eyed nurse you once were and the reasons you chose the profession as your own all those years ago.
5. You sleep better at night knowing you’re doing your part. No, finding placements for student nurses might not be on your list of job duties. But if you consider the nursing educator shortage, if you reflect on the necessity of clinical experiences for nursing students, if you think back to your early clinical placements (and the nurses who guided YOU), you’ll probably come to the conclusion that taking on a nursing student is a worthwhile thing to do. True, some days may be a little more complicated, but that’s often true of any meaningful endeavor. But at the end of the day, you can be satisfied that the effort was well spent.
Do you utilize academic practice partnerships at your organization? Leave us a comment and let us know your thoughts on how it's working for you.