AdventHealth Orlando Works to Smooth Transition From Student to Nurse
by TERESA SCHIFFER
Britney Benitez is committed to patient care. She’s also committed to caring for the nurses who provide that care. Benitez is the new Chief Nursing Officer for AdventHealth Orlando, and she has a vision for the hospital that could take holistic care to a whole new level.
“I started as a graduate nurse, which is a resident nurse or new nurse, here at AdventHealth, and I’ve been in leadership for 10 years,” Benitez says of her history with the healthcare organization. She has been with AdventHealth for a total of 17 years, and this summer will mark her first anniversary as Chief Nursing Officer (CNO).
Benitez’s revolutionary plan involves creating stronger support systems and services for new nurses. To achieve that goal, she has been busy establishing herself as a compassionate leader and a resourceful mentor for nurses at AdventHealth Orlando and AdventHealth University (AHU). She listens to the concerns expressed by recently graduated nurses in a judgment-free zone to gather ideas for how best to provide them with meaningful support.
“Taking care of patients can be very scary, and if you’ve only done it in an environment of learning, when you’re doing it in real life, the nurses didn’t feel as prepared as they wanted to be,” Benitez learned. “They expressed that they didn’t feel comfortable taking care of really sick patients.”
The pandemic had many unexpected repercussions, and one thing it really brought to the forefront of many people’s attention was the necessity of rapid innovation and adaptability in the medical world.
“What our students have continued to tell us, especially after the pandemic, is the ability to be hands-on and as immersed in clinical education as possible while they’re learning, and developing their background and their knowledge of how to become a nurse was really important,” Benitez explains. “So getting into the real-world environment and having that dedicated hands-on education with them, and a partner preceptor was something they thought was very important to their learning.”
Lynn Rowe is a member of the faculty at AdventHealth University who helps with the Dedication Education Unit at the Orlando hospital. This special unit provides nursing students with hands-on clinical experience, helping to create a smoother transition from school into their chosen careers.
With 31 years of nursing experience as an RN for AdventHealth under her belt, and the last 10 working in the BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) program, Rowe has a thorough understanding of the challenges faced by nurses as they move from a training environment into a genuine clinical setting. She recognized the struggles of new nurses as they entered the workforce, and knew what needed to be done.
“Their senior semesters, their last two semesters, we focus on really increasing their amount of contact time with patients as well as with the staff that they’re actually going to work with,” says Rowe.
The student nurses in the AHU program begin interacting with patients and medical staff in the hospital environment during their first semester of training. They continue to shadow the faculty and staff in the clinical setting each semester from that point on, ultimately culminating in their last two semesters of full immersion training. They receive plenty of classroom instruction time to learn the necessary clinical skills and are given opportunities to practice their motor activities to ensure they become adept at handling the various duties routinely performed by nurses.
“Then in their last clinical course they actually pair with another student and with a nurse who is by their side the entire time they’re at the bedside,” Rowe describes. “The nice thing about it is that it really allows them to see and feel exactly what a nurse does every day.”
Student nurses work a full 12-hour shift with an experienced nurse by their side during this phase of their training. They take care of patients as they would be expected to do on their own, administering medications and preparing reports for the physicians. It’s a challenging experience but one the nurses are grateful for soon enough, as they learn quickly how to make decisions confidently and competently, and what it’s like to monitor a patient’s condition and watch for changes throughout the day.
Many of the nurses in this program will go on to work in the specific units that they have been training in, meaning they’ve had the opportunity to work with a mentor at their side for an entire year doing exactly the tasks that they’ll be expected to handle on their own once they’ve graduated.
Like much of the U.S., Florida has been experiencing a shortage of nurses in recent years. The nurses graduating from the AHU training program are ready to hit the ground running, thanks to the support and wisdom shown by such leaders in our local medical community as Britney Benitez and Lynn Rowe. They are producing confident, enthusiastic, and highly trained medical professionals who are motivated to make a positive impact in the world of healthcare.