Boosting nurse leadership and development with improved portal to match skills
Nurse leadership programs intake going virtual to enhance recruitment and retention efforts in Winnipeg
By Bobbi-Jo Stanley
Winnipeg Regional Health Authority
Published Thursday, July 27, 2023
It's no secret that the Winnipeg Health Region, just like the rest of Canada, is experiencing a shortage of health care workers, including nurses. That's why recruitment and retention of nurses and allied health professionals is such a huge focus of work right now.
Part of that work involves ensuring new nurses have the proper tools and support to help them succeed on the job. "Our workforce survey data tells us that approximately 30 per cent of nurses have spent 5 years or less working for the WRHA," says Mary-Anne Lynch, WRHA Regional Lead, Health Services – Acute Care and Chief Nursing Officer. "When we asked new nurses what they needed most in their first few months on the job, their top answer was mentorship, having someone who can offer support and guidance at such a critical point in their career development."
The WRHA is supporting new nurses through three different programs designed to match experienced nurses with nurses who are new in their career, but at different stages of their development and training. The Mentorship Program is the newest and is a part of the Provincial Taskforce on HR Recruitment and Retention Strategy. It pairs experienced and knowledgeable nurses with a less experienced nurse to support them in maturing in their career. The Preceptorship Program pairs experienced nurses with nursing students completing their final practicums in WRHA sites and facilities. The Supervisor for Undergraduate Nurse Employment Program pairs experienced nurses with nursing students looking to gain experience in a health care setting and apply their theoretical knowledge.
"With more nursing school seats being filled and more international recruitment efforts, it means there are more nurses coming into our healthcare system, and these mentorship programs are more important than ever to help new nurses succeed," said Lynch.
To help find the right fit in these mentorship relationships, a new process has been created to track who has signed up to be a part of the program, either as a mentor or a mentee via a centralized form. By keeping track of both the mentors and mentees who are interested in these programs, it will make finding and providing support and mentorship easier and more efficient. Once an application is filled out, the manager matches mentors and mentees based on best fit of personality, skill set and availability.
Brian Sawatzky is a Regional Utilization Specialist for the Patient Access and Transition Team in the Winnipeg Health Region. He helps coordinate the movement of patients in emergency departments to community hospital sites such as Concordia Hospital, Victoria Hospital, Seven Oaks General Hospital, or the Misericordia Transitional Care Unit. He is trained as a nurse, and says he wanted to start his career in emergency medicine. “I started out in the medicine float pool at Victoria Hospital and eventually floated down to the emergency department, I went through all the education levels there and just loved it.” But thanks to the encouragement and mentorship of one of Sawatzky’s first managers, he realized there were different opportunities available in nursing. “My director in my Emergency Program role was amazing at not letting the role or title define my responsibilities and would give me other opportunities to get new experiences and I really appreciated that.”
There are financial compensations for experienced nurses who are interested in becoming a mentor, and those who take on this type of leadership role may be identified for future growth opportunities. A mentor is paid $0.70/hour for each hour they are assigned as a mentor to a new graduate. Mentors will be compensated based on 50% of their regularly scheduled hours in the 6-month mentorship period. The formal mentorship relationship is expected to be in place for approximately 6 months and mentors are expected to have regular contact with their mentees to develop and maintain the relationship and identify and develop goals and objectives.
Through these mentorship programs, experienced nurses can help newly graduated nurses develop skills, overcome obstacles and integrate into the workplace effectively, all of which is aimed at retaining nurses by fostering a positive work environment, promoting teamwork and helping build a strong workforce. "All of our nurses are such dedicated, hardworking professionals, who continue to provide the best care possible to our patients, clients and residents – no matter what challenges they've faced, and I'm very grateful for that," said Lynch. "We want to continue to build on that to ensure we have a robust health care team to continue providing that exceptional care."
Find more information on WRHA nurse leadership programs here.