Hospital education programme will train new critical care staff
Sinead Gill (Clinical Nurse Educator, Critical Care TUH), Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly TD, Derek Cribbin (Nurse Lead National Clinical Programme for Critical Care) and Fiona Whelehan (Graduate Staff Nurse, Critical Care TUH) and (Inset) an artist impression of the new ICU expansion expected to be open by the end of 2022

Hospital education programme will train new critical care staff

NURSING staff at Tallaght University Hospital have embraced an innovative recruitment strategy to enable them to safely open a new 12-bed Critical Care Unit.

In response to a national shortage of critical care nurses, Tallaght University Hospital (TUH) has introduced a 12-week New Graduate Nurse in Critical Care Education Programme.

This new nurse career pathway provides graduate nurses with professional supports, and access to the right clinical and academic education, to enable them care for patients requiring critical care.

TUH put a team of Clinical Nurse Educators in place, who together developed the new 12-week programme, which involves theoretical lectures, clinical skills workshops and simulations.

Once completed, new graduate nurses will be encouraged to progress along the National Critical Care Nurse Career Pathway, progressing from new graduate to advanced practice.

Áine Lynch, the Director of Nursing and Integrated Care at TUH, described the new critical care career pathway as “seamless”.

“The education and training opportunity we can now offer our graduate nurses is seamless, ensuring they can quickly move into their chosen specialty in nursing and is fortuitous as we are nearing completion of our new ICU build as we increase our Critical Care capacity,” she said.

As reported by The Echo in November 2020, funding was secured by TUH for a long-awaited ICU extension, which will see an additional 12 critical care beds across a 1,500m2 new build.

The new ICU, which is expected to be open by the end of 2022, will increase the hospital’s nine-bed critical care unit to a 21-bed facility.

A vital component of any new healthcare unit is staff, and TUH has developed the new recruitment strategy to support an increase in its critical care capacity.

According to the hospital, it is also ‘future proofing’ its workforce, which protects its patients’ needs by ‘delivering high-quality, evidence-based patient centred care’.

The hospital is also focused on providing a working environment that is ‘supportive and dynamic’ for employees.

New graduate nurse Niamh Skehan started work in the Critical Care Unit in TUH four months ago.

“Starting in ICU as a new graduate nurse was challenging and I had a lot to learn but the practice and experience I have gained over the last few months has really given me a vision of what an exciting career I have ahead of me,” Niamh said.

“Starting on the new graduate course, I’ve immense support in all aspects to develop my skills and learn the ropes of the critical care setting”.

Last Friday, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly visited Tallaght to learn about the new hospital-led recruitment strategy.

According to Minister Donnelly, the new approach demonstrates how creativity and a shared vision can provide solutions to challenges faced by the health service.

The team at TUH noted the support received from Dublin Midlands Hospital Group and the National Clinical Programme for Critical Care in the development of the new nurse career pathway.

A ‘thank you’ was also extended to the Minister, Chief Nursing Officer, Ms Rachel Kenna, and the Director of the Office of the Nursing and Midwifery Services, Dr Geraldine Shaw.

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