Empowering New Nurses

Aug 22, 2022

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While clinical preparation is key to success of the new nurse, it’s only one piece of the support equation.

Lacey Magen Naematullah

Always passionate about educating others, Lacey Magen Naematullah, BSN, RN, started her professional career as a middle school science teacher. After two years, Lacey realized nursing was her calling and applied to an accelerated nursing program.

Using the experiences and coping methods she developed during her academic career, she eased through some of the most challenging parts of nursing school and new nurse orientation. Managing to make herself “burnout proof,” it disheartened Lacey to see other new nurses struggling.

Using her opportunity to precept new nurses, Lacey shared some of her methods to help support new nurses during their orientation. Although she didn’t know it at the time, she was laying the groundwork for what would become The Empowered Nurse Mentorship Program, of which she is its CEO.

How did your journey take you from teacher to nurse to creating the mentorship program?

I started as a middle school science teacher. I loved working with students, but after two years, I applied to an accelerated BSN program because I’ve always loved science, the human body and educating others on their health. Shortly after starting nursing school, it was clear that nursing was the right thing for me. The coursework came naturally, and while it was challenging, it was a challenge that I was up for. As a teacher, I developed coping skills for stress, anxiety and depression management, because I dealt with many mental health struggles during that time. I used the coping mechanisms I learned both personally and as a teacher and applied them repeatedly as a nursing student when stress and being overwhelmed became abundant.

By the time I was on orientation at my first nursing job, I was thriving both on the job and personally. I was unaware of how much I had "burnout proofed" myself until I started discussing my new nurse experience with peers. At the time I was first asked to precept, I learned that some of my peers had left the profession entirely. I felt extremely disheartened. And while I thought I enjoyed nursing, this increased the passion within me. I began to use precepting as an opportunity to help new nurses on my unit assimilate, become more resilient, and learn how to live their lives as new nurses.

I decided to take what I learned as a teacher, nursing student and preceptor and create The Empowered Nurse Mentorship Program to support new nurses by filling in the missing pieces of the current orientation experiences.

Tell us more about the program. Give us an overview of your curriculum and how it can help.

The eight-week program is facilitated through a combination of online modules, one-on-one and group coaching and is broken down into the following three phases:

Phase 1 - Confidence + Stress Management
Every new nurse comes to us wanting to build a stronger muscle for confidence and resilience, so we begin by creating natural daily habits that support each individual by embodying confidence as a person first and as a nurse second. In phase one, we also work toward increasing awareness about anxiety and stress, and develop personal tools to cope with and manage the stress we feel both related and unrelated to the job.

Phase 2 - Getting to know YOU + Clarity
Nurses are stuck in the new nurse exhaustion loop: feelings of pre-shift anxiety - go to work - work the shift - sleep - eat - repeat. Phase two focuses heavily on developing goals that inspire and ignite the individual. We dive into life goals; ultimately, through this, most nurses get a deeper sense of clarity on what they are doing in their lives, why or why it is not making them happy, and what to do about it.

Phase 3 - NOW we get into nursing skills!
Phase three works to improve nursing skills after we’ve developed a stronger sense of self and learned our needs. Now it’s time to focus on the skills not spoken about often in nursing school or orientation that cause the most stress and anxiety. We emphasize effective communication related to communicating with providers, delegating tasks, giving and getting effective reports, and educating and communicating with patients and family members. If these areas of the nursing process are fine-tuned ... success is inevitable!

What are the greatest needs for early-career nurses in the current environment and in the foreseeable future?

Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for nurses to be asked (or mandated) to precept other new nurses before having much nursing experience. New nurses entering the profession must be adequately prepared for the role, including training and supporting others. While clinical preparation is key to the success of the new nurse, it is only one piece of the support equation. New nurses are not taught how to: manage workplace stress; build clinical, personal and professional confidence; communicate effectively with others in high-stress situations; build personal resilience in the face of acute and chronic adversity; develop inspiring career and personal life goals with actionable plans; and use emotional intelligence to navigate the profession.

Do you offer other programs beyond the first year?

The Empowered Nurse Network is free for anyone looking for support on their nursing journey. In the network, we support those considering entering the nursing profession and those in high-level leadership roles. The goal of The Empowered Nurse Network is to build a community of like-minded healthcare professionals that recognize the challenges and realities of being a nurse in our healthcare system and also have the ability to identify and embody the incredibly positive and empowering aspects of the profession. It features coping with workplace trauma, handling pre/post-shift anxiety, recognizing our wins and celebrating them regularly, weekly affirmations, leadership support and tips, and much more.

The Leadership Intensive is created for anyone who would like to mentor or support new nurses, work as a charge nurse or preceptor, or expand into other leadership roles in their organization, and it features weekly live group coaching via Zoom, weekly integration work to implement everything you learn right away, and 24/7 messaging support.

We also offer High-level Leadership Coaching that is built for the leader who has experienced the group intensive and is looking for more dialed-in, personalized support on reaching their career and personal life goals. It features life coaching, leadership coaching, business coaching (if applicable), and mentor training and development if supporting and mentoring new nurses is a passion aligned with the individual's goals.

Wellness and self-care are so crucial for nurses. Tell us about your recent retreat in Costa Rica.

I had an opportunity to run a retreat with a fellow ICU colleague who is an incredible yoga instructor. We took 22 nurses on an all-inclusive trip to Costa Rica in April 2022. The goal of the retreat was to develop inspiration, learn how to relax, reset, and leave feeling excited and rejuvenated. Costa Rica 2022 was so successful, and the community we built with each other as nurses was so powerful that I decided to make it an annual trip and to start implementing more in-person connection opportunities within our programs.

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