Family, friends and colleagues gathered at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay in Cambridge on May 5 to honor the 35 nurses who participated in the graduation ceremony for the Shore Health System nurses who completed the Critical Care University (CCU) and Graduate University (GU) nursing orientation program. Since its beginning in 2002, a combined total of 203 nurses have completed CCU and GU.
CCU and GU have been nationally recognized as an innovative model for attracting and retaining nurses. At a time when other healthcare providers are experiencing double-digit nursing vacancy rates, Shore Health System has less than a one percent vacancy rate and a waiting list for the next CCU and GU classes. In his opening remarks to the graduates and their guests, Chris Parker, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, CHCQM, FAIHQ, vice president for patient care services and chief nursing officer, said, “The investment we have made in helping novice nurses transition to a hospital practice is one of the reasons nurses choose to begin their careers at Shore Health System.”
CCU is a 10-month program developed to address the recruitment need for critical care nurses in the emergency departments, recovery rooms, and intensive care and telemetry units at The Memorial Hospital at Easton and Dorchester General hospital. GU, a five-month program, helps nurses develop the proficiencies required in medical/surgical nursing and in the specialties of obstetrics, pediatrics, neurology and surgical nursing, and in behavioral health and home health services. Both programs combine intensive classroom work and clinical instruction.
Joseph P. Ross, president and CEO for Shore Health System, congratulated Parker and his nursing team. Addressing the nurses, he said, “You will be appreciated by patients and their families throughout your nursing careers” Ross acknowledged the Memorial Hospital Foundation for making the initial investment that was needed to underwrite the cost of CCU and GU.
Looking around the Hyatt ballroom, Karen Hendricks, MSHCA, BSN, RN, NEA-BC, director of the Shore Health Institute of Nursing Science, acknowledged the nurses whom she first met when they were participants in the CCU and GU programs. Today, they are established in their careers and many are serving as preceptors for novice nurses. “It is an honor to watch all of you grow,” she said.
Speakers representing the Class of 2009 were Sara Clafferty, RN, from Critical Care University, and Julie Zaharis, RN, from Graduate University.
Clafferty, who will be working in the telemetry unit at Memorial Hospital, said, “I couldn’t have asked for a better place to be introduced to the world of nursing. The program was a blessing for someone like me who didn’t know what area of nursing I wanted to go into.” She cited observation days, lectures and skills labs as some of the more valuable aspects of the program.
Zaharis, who will be a nurse in the Birthing Center at Memorial Hospital, remembered her first day at Graduate University. She said, “No one knew anyone. The only thing we had in common was our nursing education. We now have a bond that will last a lifetime.”
Zaharis explained that her rotations in the hospital helped her gain confidence when she talks to physicians, nurses and other clinical providers. She extended special thanks to the preceptors she worked with during her advanced training. She said, “They did everything in their power to help us be independent nurses. As we graduate today, we’ve all achieved our goal of becoming nurses who care for our patients with confidence.”
Diplomas and pins were presented to the graduating class members by Parker, Hendricks, Ross and Charles Capute, chair of the Memorial Hospital Foundation Board of Directors.