By Kelly Medinger
Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital uses health care grant to “grow their own” pediatric specialty nursing workforce
Caring and nursing are synonymous in our society. Yet to be caring specialists for patients, nurses need a support system of their own. That is how the Grow Your Own program at Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital in Baltimore got its start.
What is Grow Your Own?
Grow Your Own (GYO) is a pediatric nursing professional development program that includes a year-long residency for new nursing graduates or those new to pediatrics. It includes an orientation curriculum with classes like “Flu and Electrolytes” that utilize case studies and a simulation lab to foster problem solving, critical thinking, and technical skills. Interdisciplinary team building is another component of the program. Once a month, a “Mock Code” takes place in the simulation lab to improve communication between healthcare team members. Finally, GYO supports ongoing professional development for nurses at all levels by providing accredited continuing education courses and preparation for pediatric specialty certification.
“Change is constant in health care,” remarks Sharon Meadows, MS, RN-BC, Director of Education & Professional Development. “There is always new knowledge and new evidence out there to be integrated into practice.” Add to that the hyper-specialized nature of pediatric transitional care, and the need to “grow your own” team of highly-trained nurses becomes even more important.
About Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital
Founded in 1922, Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital was one of the first healthcare institutions in the United States devoted solely to the care of children. In their early years, they saw children suffering from rheumatic fever, polio, and influenza. Today, they serve 7,500 children each year for conditions such as feeding disorders, congenital challenges, diabetes, and more.
In many ways, Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital is the bridge between a child’s stay in a more medically-intensive environment, like the ICU, and the child’s home. This transitional care environment means that the hospital’s medical staff work closely with parents to make sure each child’s healing continues well beyond the hospital stay.
From Pilot to Permanent
Since beginning as a pilot in 2009, the GYO program has exhibited impressive results in helping the more than 100 nurses at Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital learn and grow.
During the year the Knott Foundation supported GYO, the 12-month retention rate for new nurses was 100%, compared to just 50% prior to GYO’s founding. Meanwhile, 10 nurses received their specialty certification. These positive results have persisted. The hospital now boasts nursing retention of 100% at 6 months, 95% at 12 months, and 83% at 18 months. Also, the number of certified nurses has grown to reach 30% of their nursing workforce.
With a track record of consistent, positive results, the GYO program has gone from being a pilot program supported by grant funding to being a permanent program sustained by the hospital’s budget. “Grant funding allowed us to build the program and demonstrate success for a few years. We couldn’t have done what we did without grant support,” Meadows recalls.
Reflecting on the GYO program’s impact, Meadows says: “The whole Grow Your Own program has really increased the level of expertise in our hospital and helped us retain our new nurses. This helps improve the quality of care and safety of our patient population – which is really what we aim to do in the education department. We help our staff be experts at what they do.”