New nurses who studied during the Covid-19 pandemic are a distinctly unique cohort, according to Wendy J. Robb, Dean of the School of Nursing at Cedar Crest College in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Not only was their schooling experience disrupted and unconventional, she says, but they’re now entering the front lines of a medical landscape that’s unlike any before it. With the need for nurses projected to keep growing, Robb says, it’s critical that would-be employers provide a candidate experience that validates and addresses the acute concerns that come with entering the healthcare workforce as a recent nursing graduate.
Acknowledge they’ve been through a completely different educational experience than any nurses before them.
“New nurses studying during the pandemic faced stressful conditions, including online courses, absent or minimalized preceptorship, and uncertainty,” Robb points out. “They’re often questioning their career choice,” she says, “so reassure your candidates that your organization will help take responsibility for both their short-term and long-term success.”
Highlight your professional development opportunities.
”Understand that many new nurses have had to hit the ground running, with the traditional period between student and professional cut drastically, if not completely eradicated,” Robb advises. “Show them they won’t be alone and will have ample opportunities to develop and grow.”
Demonstrate that you will support their mental health and wellness.
“New nurses are all too aware they’re signing up long hours, fear of contamination, and exhausting emotional work,” Robb states. “Assure them that balance is baked into your culture—and encourage hobbies, extra-curricular interests, volunteering and service, activities outside of nursing.”
—Professor Wendy J. Robb, ADN, BSN, MSN, Ph.D., is the Dean of the Cedar Crest College School of Nursing and holds the Hazel and Walter May Nursing Endowed Chair for Excellence in Nursing. You can reach her at Wjrobb@cedarcrest.edu.