Innovative NETP clinical coach role

1 May 2012

We employ clinical coaches as part of our Nurse Entry to Practice (NETP) programme that was first established back in 2004.

The two coaches support on average 110 graduates from two intakes per year in their clinical areas, with a particular focus on developing reflection and critical thinking skills to support their professional growth.

Historically, the clinical coaches would visit the graduates unannounced and assist them with their allocated workload for that shift, normally spending between 30 minutes to an hour with the graduate. As a team, we identified from both formal mid-year and end of year evaluative feedback that the graduates found this system unsatisfactory, and at times overwhelming.

In September 2011, the team introduced a new process for the clinical coach role. The use of guided reflection to support the integration of theory into practice and develop the critical practitioner is well documented in the research literature.

The ability to reflect in action i.e. in the moment rather than retrospectively, is the approach that the NETP team felt would be most beneficial to the graduate. It requires the coaches to have high level coaching and mentoring skills as well as clear guidelines for facilitating the reflection in action.

Both of the coaches are undergoing a coaching and mentoring programme supported by the DHB’s Spirited Leadership team. The team identified a coaching model specifically developed by Nelson et al. for use with beginner nurses.

This model uses a set of questions specifically designed to encourage reflection and critical thinking in action, the coaches also extended their appointment times from a former maximum of one hour to now offering two hours to allow for meaningful discussion and reflection to occur.

To date, we have received very positive feedback from both graduate cohorts, additionally there has been a decrease in the number of performance plans that involve graduate nurses. Within the next month, we will be formally evaluating the process for the September 2011 graduates, and the team feels that this process has had a significant impact on the professional development of the graduate nurses.

Article contributed by Amanda Browne – Nurse Coordinator NETP programme, Counties Manukau DHB