Civilian nurses offered specialized training
Opening up the existing perioperative, or operating room, course to civilians and developing a new ER training course for civilians allows Madigan to invest in its civilian employees, which comprises nearly 68 percent of the hospital staff. (Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class William Cousins)
MADIGAN ARMY MEDICAL CENTER, Wash. — Civilian nurses here can now get in-house training to specialize as perioperative and emergency nurses.
In August, a civilian nurse began training with Madigan's Consolidated Education Division in a course which previously only trained military nurses. Opening up the existing perioperative, or operating room, course to civilians and developing a new ER training course for civilians allows Madigan to invest in its civilian employees, which comprises nearly 68 percent of the hospital staff. Many nurses may see a grade increase after specializing as well.
"One of goals is to help us find talented people for hard-to-fill positions and grow our own. We think investing in them here will make them more dedicated employees, and will help us to retain our best people," said Army Col. John Groves, Madigan's chief nursing officer.
Before now, civilian nurses who wanted to specialize in these areas often left federal service to get training in the civilian workforce. Groves believes that offering specialized training here will also serve as a recruiting tool as it enhances nurses' professional development.
"Once you get a couple of years under your belt as a (medical-surgical) nurse, there's also a chance for you to move into the operating room and the ER, and I think that's exciting for any nurse to have that chance to develop," he said. Madigan is also considering a future intensive care unit nursing course as well.
The OR course lasts 16 weeks and the ER course is scheduled to take 12 weeks; both offer a combination of self-study, classroom and clinical teaching. Madigan is ensuring the ER self-study program uses the "gold standard" of a program already accredited by the Emergency Nurses Association, said Groves. After graduating from the courses, employees enter orientation programs in the specialty areas. Offering the clinical training alongside of nurses already in these fields also allows leadership to better evaluate the trainees before hiring them.
"When you move into critical care, specifically ICU, the ER and the operating room, we've got to make sure it's a good fit," Groves said.
Both specialties require the ability to work in intense environments.
"You keep the calm in the chaos," Army Maj. Sandra Vargas, the OR head nurse. "You have to be prepared to handle a trauma at anytime."
While the OR course has already had its first civilian student, the ER course is predicted to start this fall. The ER course is being developed by Army Lt. Col. Katherine Frost, the unit's clinical nurse officer-in-charge, and by Michelle Darcy, a trauma nurse educator with the Consolidated Education Division.
Although each program may initially train one to two nurses in the first course, the programs may train four to six students a year depending on the need of each specialty area, according to Army Lt. Col. Vincent Leto, chief of the Consolidated Education Division.
"I'm absolutely convinced this will be a successful endeavor," said Groves, who shared that Madigan has some of the best teachers and clinical mentors he's seen in 29 years.
The training helps prepare nurses for future national board-certified tests as well. Madigan nurses who want to apply for this specialized training should work through their chains of command and annotate this goal in their individualized development plans.
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