Our Initiatives

New Graduate Nurse Practice Readiness Program

Program Summary:

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors awarded grant money from the American Rescue Plan Act to improve the nursing workforce pipeline. The Nurse Practice Readiness Program was funded for a pilot project in 20222 and partnered nursing schools with healthcare organizations to increase the practice readiness of NGN. This project was intended as a model for how communities can better support nurse preceptors and close the academic-practice gap with a more seamless transition of NGN into acute care and community settings. Pilot partners included 4 acute care organizations, 2 community-based organizations, one community college, and two state universities.

Practice and academia are working toward the same outcome of developing safe, practice-ready nurses. Closing the gap and improving the transition to practice requires thoughtful and actionable collaboration between schools of nursing and practice partners with use of mutual evaluation tools. A pilot project was conducted in Fall 2022 with 63 nurse preceptors and 53 senior nursing students.

  • Preceptors received enhanced training on the preceptor role. This included 10 self-paced online modules to help preceptors teach prioritization, clinical judgment, communication, and wellbeing to senior nursing students.
  • Preceptors also participated in a synchronous Zoom session with problem-based learning and discussion of challenging situations. Training on the Engage platform and readiness to practice indicators (RPIs) was also done during this session.
  • Preceptors were sent a weekly teaching tip for 12 weeks after training completion. The teaching tips focused on wellbeing and clinical judgment.
  • Students and faculty were trained to use the Engage platform and RPIs, which is an evidence-based tool used to validate the competence of new graduate nurses and determine when they can safely care for a full patient load and enter productive staffing.

Preceptors and students were enrolled in separate IRB-approved studies. These two evidence-based pilot projects were completed in Fall 2022 and had the following outcomes:

  • Preceptors had statistically significantly increased levels of satisfaction with training as compared to previous experiences.
  • Preceptors had statistically significantly increased levels of self-efficacy in the preceptor role and slightly increased levels of resilience.
  • Qualitative data from preceptors indicate they felt more confident in communicating with students and had more engagement in the preceptor role.
  • Students felt prepared to transition to a new graduate role and 90% felt prepared to take on the responsibility for a full patient assignment.
  • Students and preceptors felt that the RPIs provided guidance, assistance with goal setting, and a better sense of the role of the nurse.

Future Plans:

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors approved funding for the Nurse Practice Readiness Program through 2025. The intention is to double the number of preceptors and senior nursing students each year while working with clinical and academic partners to create a sustainable model.  Students are paired with nurse preceptors who receive enhanced preceptor training that includes strategies to help a senior nursing student think and function like a practicing nurse. Students are evaluated by the preceptor for readiness to practice with a validated readiness to practice tool. The preceptors earn continuing education credit for the training. Senior nursing students receive a stipend toward license and NCLEX fees.

While other nursing grants in Arizona focus on the new graduate transition, the Maricopa County funded program is unique in its exclusive focus on senior nursing students.