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New Arizona transition-to-practice nursing program welcomes 1st cohort, aims to prevent burnout

A new transition-to-practice program in Arizona has welcomed its first cohort of nurses.

The 12-month program supports hospitals in more rural areas and aims to prevent burnout among nurses. Karen Ofafa is a registered nurse and directs the program. 

"What we've seen in research is a lot of these new nurses get the hospital-specific orientation and then they're left to practice patient care by themselves," Ofafa said. "Then they start to realize what they don't know, their confidence dips and at that point they need more assistance and more support."

Many large Arizona hospitals already have a program in place for newly-graduated nurses, but smaller, more rural hospitals often lack the resources.

That’s why the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association partnered with the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) to help retain new nurses in their roles. 

“We pair them with a preceptor," Ofafa said. "A preceptor is usually another tenured registered nurse. They work together until this new graduate nurse feels comfortable and confident to be able to practice on their own.”

Arizona lost a lot of nurses to burnout following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, so the program also offers emergency preparedness training.

“We had a lot of nurses during COVID that were not ready because nobody knew how to take care of patients, you know, with the additional situation that was going on," she said. "So we are preparing them. So if a crisis hits, they are able to pivot and continue taking care of that patient.”

The program also offers professional development opportunities and additional resources for certain specialties.

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Senior field correspondent Bridget Dowd has a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.