Katie Hungarter is a registered nurse (RN) who was introduced to the nursing profession as a child watching her mom, an emergency room nurse, at work. “At first I was nervous about having so much responsibility for another person,” says Katie. “But I am so glad I decided to become a nurse.”
For the past two years, Katie has been caring for patients before and after their surgical procedures at Hunterdon Medical Center in Flemington, N.J. Although she attended a thorough orientation program at the hospital, making the transition from being a student and nurse intern to a registered nurse, “was intimidating,” Katie recalls. “When I started working I was suddenly responsible for patients and had to interact with doctors for the first time.”
As the U.S. faces the most profound shortage of nurses in its history, new nurses are vital to the nursing profession and the health care system. A shortfall of nearly half a million registered nurses threatens to disrupt the quality and availability of health care services.
Supporting Nurses in the Transition from Classroom to Patient Room
The Johnson & Johnson Campaign for Nursing’s Future, a public-awareness campaign launched by Johnson & Johnson in 2002, is working to address the nursing shortage in the U.S. by recruiting new nurses and nurse faculty and helping to retain nurses currently in the profession.
To prepare soon-to-be nurses for the challenges of the workplace, Johnson & Johnson recently developed Your Future in Nursing, a training program that combines the interactivity of video computer gaming with real-life nursing scenarios. New and future nurses can practice responding to scenarios in a risk-free and relaxed virtual environment while developing the communication skills that are such a critical part of the transition from classroom to bedside.
“Understanding the needs and challenges of new nurses and supplying them with supportive tools and resources is key to keeping them in practice,” says Andrea Higham, Director, Johnson & Johnson Campaign for Nursing’s Future. “This learning tool represents a novel approach to education and development in health care, and our hope is that the software will engage and prepare future nurses for the real experience they’ll face in today’s nursing environment.”
Your Future in Nursing was developed with insight from a diverse team of nurses, including Katie. They worked to identify common challenges that may face new nurses of all ages, such as feeling overwhelmed by patient care responsibilities to working with difficult co-workers.
“We worked hard to get at the heart of the issues that affect nurses during the transition from school to the workforce and then strategized the best ways for nurses to manage those issues,” says Barbara Tofani, RN, Director, Hunterdon Regional Cancer Center and a consultant in the development of Your Future in Nursing.
The interactive training tool allows nurses to navigate a personalized 3-D nurse character through rooms of a virtual hospital. “The game is great because everywhere you turn you are encountering a different situation with doctors, nurses and patients. That is the real life of a nurse—you don’t know what you’ll run into on any given day,” says Katie.
With experience comes confidence in caring for patients. “What I like about nursing is being with patients and the conversations that I have with them,” says Katie, who is now working towards her Bachelor’s degree in nursing. “You really feel like you are making a big difference.”
Read more on how the Campaign for Nursing’s Future was honored by the National League of Nurses