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Mentoring New Hospice Nurses: What They Need to Know

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At the Management Leadership Conference for the National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) in April, one of the lunch sessions focused on Nurse Case Manager Mentorship. Mentorship is vital to retain new nurses and helping new nurses grow in being part of a team, providing safe, quality care to their patients. Here’s what some experienced hospice nurse managers thought their newer counterparts would need to know.  

Being Professional vs. Personal

The group talked about the importance of teaching how to set good boundaries. Experienced hospice nurses have learned how to balance being professional versus personal. They’ve noticed that the nurses who burn out and leave their careers prematurely are the ones that don’t set appropriate boundaries.

A Practical, Not Just Medical Approach

It’s especially important for “newbies” to be aware of some of the more simple aspects of care. One senior nurse manager talked about the importance of emphasizing the difference between medical management of symptoms and some of the more practical aspects of care; aspects that veteran hospice nurses have learned with years of experience. Simple things like opening a window, turning on a fan, and keeping things quiet were often overlooked by younger nurses who may have a more medical mind set.

The Right Way to Do a Visit

Another tip for mentoring was teaching nurses how to do a visit. Attendees agreed that it is important for newer nurses to set an agenda for the visit. This will help them to stay in charge. One attendee warned that if you don’t, you might get overwhelmed (you can only solve so many problems in a day).

The session leader told the group about a fun way to look at the various roles in hospice. The admission nurse lays the foundation, then the rest of the staff–RNs, CNAs, and the social worker–will do their part. They provide the roof and walls of hospice care. The chaplain, she added, is the chandelier!

The Importance of Self Care

There were a lot of good ideas for making certain that nurses are taking proper care of themselves. One hospice group in Pennsylvania offers massage therapy, with two massage chairs in the office and a relaxing coffee hour and breakfast served after their Monday morning staff meetings. They also hold monthly one-on-one sessions to keep the lines of communication open.

Mentoring newer nurses in the hospice profession offers an important aspect of improving the experience for both nursing staff and the patients they serve. Having a few key tips can help to ease the transition and pass along best practices to the next generation of hospice nurses.

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