Educational Training Lab First of its Kind in New Hampshire

May 24, 2006
by Michael Johns, Project Manager
According to HealthCare Review, Northeast Network, job training at Monadnock Community Hospital (MCH) has never been so easy.

Back in October, MCH officially opened its Educational Training Lab. And thanks to its convenient location and its many training tools, nurses at the facility are raving about the quick and efficient way they can learn new skills, or even brush up on old ones.

"We're a teaching and learning organization," said Claudia Cleary-Nichols, who is the nursing education coordinator for the hospital's Medical-Surgical Unit (APU), ICU, and ED. "And this type of lab fits in perfectly with Monadnock's philosophy. The best part is, it's easy. We're bringing the education to our staff."

The Educational Training Lab - the first of its kind in the state of New Hampshire - was the brainchild of Lisa Perales, who is the nurse manager for the APU, ICU, and ED. According to her, having the lab situated at the hospital was key (the lab is located right on the APU floor). Being able to offer training and education at the facility is significantly more beneficial to staff than anything of the off-site variety.

"It's a time issue," Perales said. "Today's nurses just don't have the time to be traveling elsewhere to receive training. With this lab, we can have nurses show up right before their shift begins. We even have instances where nurses pick up the slack for an hour or so, that way one of their fellow nurses can undergo a training session during a shift."

Perales also wanted to ensure the lab -0 which is staffed by the team of Perales, Cleary-Nichols, Melissa Brown, Jill Mattson, and Christy-Sue Richtarcsik - have the ability to give nurses a multitude of training options. Currently, it features an advanced IV arm, which can help staff with skills such as IV insertions, IM injections, intra-dermal injections, and drawing blood. A training doll helps with NG tube insertions, Foley catheter insertions, tracheostomy care, wound care, and stoma care. And a life-sized mannequin head can be used for practicing intubations.

The lab also features an extensive reference library, as well as the necessary equipment to conduct PowerPoint presentations.

"We wanted to custom design the lab to meet the needs of our staff," Perales said. "We wanted to make it diverse. Having many educational and training options does that." And while it's important to learn new skills, honing old ones is equally vital. Especially at a rural hospital like MCH, where nurses may go weeks in between performing a certain procedure. "We don't have a high census here," Brown said. "It's great we have the opportunity to simulate patient care. It makes nurses more self-confident."

The lab's impact
Helping improve patient care - that, without a doubt, is the most important side effect of the Educational Training Lab. According to Perales, an added bonus has been the profound impact the lab's had upon recruitment and retention.
New employees on the APU undergo an eight-week orientation program with a portion of the training taking place in the lab. Thanks to the lab's many educational tools, the training new hires receive is extensive and thorough.

As for as retention goes, the Educational Training Lab gives APU nurses the ability to switch career tracks - and thus, make a move to a new department within the hospital, rather than leave for another facility. It's all part of the Clinical Career Mapping program and so far, it's successfully seen four new graduate nurses take on duties such as charge nurse and preceptor for new hires, as well as move to units such as ICU or the ED.

"We want nurses to know that when it comes to making a change, the support is there," Cleary-Nichols said. "Quite often, a variety of factors impede a nurse from switching to another department, and that can lead to frustration and low morale. We didn't want that to be the case at our facility."
"We don't want to simply retain nurses," Perales said. "We want them to grow as well. And having this lab allows us to do that."

For more information, visit or call them at 603-924-7191.

Posted with thanks to HealthCare Review, Northeast Network.