From Baby Boomers to Generation Z, the nursing field has never seen a more diverse mix of ages. Each generation of nurses brings a different set of knowledge, experience and enthusiasm that keeps our healthcare system strong. A year and a half into the COVID-19 pandemic, the teams at UnityPoint Health – Central Illinois and Methodist College recognize more than ever that it’s important to value the experienced nurses and do our part to grow the next generations.
Seasoned Nurses as Mentors
Jeanine Spain, chief nursing operator and chief operating officer for UnityPoint Health – Central Illinois, and Dr. Laurie Shanderson, chancellor of Methodist College, both agree that experienced nurses are essential to care teams. “These nurses bring a tremendous amount of academic and practical experience that have a direct impact on the perspectives of newer nurses,” Shanderson says. “They model best practices and serve as first-level mentors to newer nurses.”
At UnityPoint Health, new nurses are assigned a preceptor, an experienced nurse, to help with the onboarding process. These preceptors are available to answer questions, ease concerns, and teach time management to help improve patient care. “Our experienced team members have the backs of our newer nurses,” adds Spain. “They also bring a sense of humor to the workforce. Not only is nursing physically hard, but it is also mentally stressful. Being able to enjoy a laugh during your shift makes it easier. Additionally, they bring empathy to the workforce and teach new nurses how to be empathic team members.”
Bringing Fresh Perspectives
With the healthcare industry constantly evolving, new nurses help care teams remain agile. Many times, they are savvier with technology and the virtual care options that have increased drastically in recent years. “Newer nurses are a reminder to those who are more experienced that innovation and technology are necessary to address the many health-related challenges faced by our society,” says Shanderson.
Spain adds that, in addition to the eagerness to learn and grow that comes with the start of a new career, new nurses have something else to teach their experienced counterparts. “New nurses have a more realistic view on self-care and work-life balance, which is more important now than ever.”
The Foundation for Success
For anyone who feels drawn to the nursing field, the foundation for a successful career is a quality education, which can be found right here in Peoria. Jeanine Spain graduated from Methodist College in 1975 and says the faculty and experiences available to her as a student helped build her career. “I could not have asked for better clinical rotations, which shaped my nursing practices,” says Spain. “The strong nursing faculty challenged my knowledge and influenced how I problem-solved.”
Dr. Shanderson was named Methodist College’s chancellor in August 2021. A few months into her tenure, she is proud to be part of the team shaping the next generation of nurses. “Methodist College has a long history of preparing individuals for careers in nursing,” she explains. “Our curricula are intentionally focused on creating nurses who are able to provide care and support in our community.”
Bridge Between College and Career
The partnership between UnityPoint Health and Methodist College provides a seamless transition between education and the workforce for many students. “UnityPoint is deeply committed to ensuring that Methodist College students can
gain the clinical experiences that will simulate their future work,” says Shanderson. “Partnership in this way is meaningful for both the College and health system, living out the goal of ‘growing their own.’”
Spain says it’s vital to foster this partnership as the demand for healthcare workers continues to grow. “For students to choose a college that is aligned with a strong healthcare system provides a major advantage of knowing the faculty is invested in the student body and a path for successful employment.”
Focused on Great Outcomes
For new nurses entering the field and experienced nurses considering a change, UnityPoint Health provides countless opportunities for careers and advancements, all fostered by the organization’s “FOCUS” values: Fostering Unity, Owning the Moment, Championing Excellence, and Seizing Opportunities. Now overseeing nursing for the Central Illinois region, Spain says choosing UnityPoint is the best career decision she’s ever made. “Our nurses have a voice in identifying and eliminating issues and improving care. Nurses feel valued when they have been invested in, whether that’s through a Nursing Clinical Advancement Program, a Nursing Scholars Program, or leading a clinical outcomes team.”
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of all healthcare workers has been highlighted, but nurses have been especially critical to the care of patients. In addition to being caregivers, they become the family member when none are allowed to visit. Nursing is the most trusted profession, and that has never been more evident than in the last 18 months. “Being a nurse has given me more joy than I could have imagined,” Spain adds. “Being able to care for patients when they are in their most fragile condition is an honor which I do not take lightly.” PM
UnityPoint Health and Methodist College are both actively recruiting students and employees for the next generation of nursing. Learn more about opportunities by visiting unitypoint.org/careers and methodistcol.edu.