Nurses, Medical Students Foster Collaborative Relationships
Rachel Burnard, RN, of Tower 14AB, and Harvard medical student Bradford Diephuis are paired during the kick-off of the BWH Medical Student Nurse Mentor Program.
Sylvan Baca, a third-year medical student at Harvard, was curious about what a day in the life of a BWH nurse would entail.
So when he was offered the chance to be part of BWH's Medical Student Nurse Mentor Program, Baca, who is completing a three-month surgery clerkship at BWH, jumped at the opportunity. The program, which is in its second year, pairs BWH nurses and third-year medical students together to foster communication and connection between disciplines. Nurses quickly become a mentor and friendly face at the hospital for students as they began their clinical rotations.
"The program has given me great insight into the vital role nurses play in patient care, as well as all of the work they do on the ‘front lines,'" said Baca. "It's also made me realize how important it is for there to be good relationships between doctors and nurses in a hospital setting."
Each of the 15 nurse participants, who volunteer to be part of the program, is paired with a medical student. The pairs connect throughout the year, both formally and informally-over lunch or coffee, on the floors and by email. A program kick-off was held earlier this summer, during which the matched pairs met.
"This program is a great opportunity for nurses to influence perceptions of future physicians and to positively impact collaborative interprofessional relationships," said Jackie Somerville, PhD, RN, senior vice president of Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer. Somerville is an executive sponsor of the program.
The program is co-led by Margaret Costello, PhD, RN, of Tower 15CD, and Medical Student Education Director Erik Alexander, MD.
"It highlights the role of nurses as teachers and mentors," said Costello. "We are building strong, collaborative relationships with physicians early in their careers. Nurses and physicians are educated separately, and we typically get together for the first time on the job. A program like this one begins to build collegial relationships before that. It's been very positive."
Participating nurses wear buttons with the phrase "Connected to a Medical Student," identifying themselves to other nurses, medical students and the BWH community as mentors and friends to the students.
Claire Zaya, RN, a charge nurse on CWN-10, wanted to get to know medical students and help welcome them to BWH as part of the program. She has met with her assigned medical student for coffee and has worked with her on CWN-10.
"We all work together, and I look forward to watching as my student continues throughout the program," said Zaya. "It's a great way to make a connection."
In a similar spirit of mentorship and collegiality, Tower 15CD nurses hosted a welcome dinner for new surgical interns in June. The event was funded through the Mary Fay Enrichment Award granted to Costello, nursing director Suzanne Silvernail, MSN, RN, and Sarah Thompson, MSN, RN, nurse educator, for their research on barriers to effective collaboration and communication among the multidisciplinary surgical service team at BWH.
"The theme of relationships kept coming up in our research," said Costello. "Relationships among providers across disciplines are the key to excellent patient care."
BWH physicians, nursing directors, nurses, outgoing surgical interns, physical therapists, social workers, Care Coordination and other Surgical Service staff came together to welcome the 21 new surgical interns. They also shared a video they created that highlights the different roles of the multidisciplinary team members.
"At the dinner, we had the chance to set the foundation for working together and provide a good sense of each others' roles," added Costello. "I already feel the energy. Collaboration is so much more positive when you know people and feel connected to them."
As for Baca, he says he's learned a lot from his nurse mentor since the year-long program began in May.
"I've learned some important basics about the flow of patient care that I didn't know before-for example, how patients are assessed by nurses after surgery, how medication is dispensed and given, and much more," he said.
Harvard medical student Sylvan Baca and nurse mentor PACU staff nurse Dianne Aucoin, RN, meet at the Medical Student Nurse Mentor Program kick-off.