Earning National Accreditation and Growing Nurses Even in a Pandemic

Published in Howard County General Hospital Nursing Annual Report - 2019-2020

Dream. Grow. Motivate. Lead. Those are the inspirational words Senta Benson, DNP, MSN-Ed, RN, NPD-BC, manager of clinical education for the HCGH Nurse Residency Program, shares with her nurse residents.

HCGH started the current nursing residency program in 2017, and in 2019, the 12-month nurse residency program at HCGH was accredited with distinction by the Practice Transition Accreditation Program (PTAP) of the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).

“We hire newly licensed registered nurses with less than one year of acute care experience, and have three cohorts in March, August and October,” says Senta. “The clinical experience coupled with the classroom education provide the nurses with increased decision-making, competence and confidence; professional commitment and satisfaction; a more consistent use of evidence-based practices; stronger clinical nursing leadership and critical thinking skills and development plans for their new role in nursing.”

In March 2020, the new cohort had just begun their residency when the pandemic struck. Senta recalls, “Just as every other educator in the United States, we had to adapt to teaching everything virtually and creatively keeping nurse residents engaged while doing so. We tailored education even further to their needs during an extremely challenging time. We used case studies and offered the new nurses, who came in with a lack of training and had never worked in acute care before – let alone during the pandemic – the opportunity to reflect and to share their experiences with their peers. They were fearful and stressed, yet extremely persistent and resilient.

“The pandemic may affect some people’s decision to become a nurse in the future. But for those who have a calling for nursing: you will always choose nursing, you will always persevere, you will always be a nurse and you will always deep down inside love it, even in the tough times.”

October 2020 HCGH Nurse Resident Graduate Denise de Brito, BSN, RN, who is also now a nurse on the HCGH COVID-19 Unit, learned a lot through the program,“You don’t know your true strength until you are faced with adversity and have overcome it. Being in the profession of nursing, you are constantly being challenged physically, emotionally and spiritually. As you overcome one challenge, you are being prepared for the next. By doing so, you are forced to become the best version of you.”

Racing Across Howard County to Support Nurses

As the fall months approached, the HCGH Chief Nursing Officer had an idea for an event that would support HCGH nurses and incorporate the community. The Race Across Howard County was born.

Race Across Howard County logo