The IMPACT Experience
In May 2016, a clinical simulation-based employee orientation program known as IMPACT was introduced to new nurses and patient care technicians (PCTs) at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital and Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital.
The traditional orientation program for nurses and PCTs included four days of lecture-based content delivered by various specialists. IMPACT was designed to be more interactive so that new employees become familiar with the tools and skills they need to do their jobs, as well as practice different scenarios they may be exposed to throughout their careers.
“We had the vision to move to a new model of orientation and we wanted people to learn the way they work, that is, together as a care team and not in isolation,” says Gina Reid, PhD, MS, MPH, RN-BC, director of Professional Development. “Our goal is to be one of the first interprofessional orientation programs in the region.”
New employees attend the Day 1 experience at the downtown campus and then attend IMPACT the remainder of their first week of employment. The program is offered once a month at Central DuPage Hospital and once a month at Delnor Hospital and new employees can attend at either campus. “This program has really helped to create a sense of team at both campuses,” says Gina.
A unique component of the program is the simulation practice. “Instead of using traditional mannequins, we hire professionally trained actors who take on characteristics of a real patient, allowing participants to receive feedback from a patient’s point of view,” says Michelle Olech Smith, MSN, RN, CHSE, program director of Professional Development and Simulation. “Our aim is to help new hires achieve competency in a shorter timeframe using experiential learning.”
The program has left a lasting impression on participants. Adam Grujic, an administrative technician phlebotomist in the Pediatric Emergency Department (ED) at Central DuPage Hospital, was one of the first new employees to participate in IMPACT. He says that his favorite part of the IMPACT program was the simulation. “It gave me a sense of what I would be doing in the ED. I’ve been a part of a couple of traumas since then, and the training I had in IMPACT really helped me relax in the situation,” says Adam.
“I am so thankful to have had this experience. I can tell that the staff really wants to see me thrive and that Northwestern Medicine has our best interests in mind, as well as the best interest of our patients. I can't think of one thing I would change about the program,” says Kaitlyn Rexford, patient care technician in the Surgical Care Center at Central DuPage Hospital and nursing school student. “If I could take all these educators and bring them to my school, I would.”
During IMPACT week, participants are also provided with their log-in information to access their email, Epic and other programs they need to do their jobs.
“The employees on my unit who have participated in the IMPACT program are ready to start on their first day. They know how to operate things the first day of work,” says Kaitlyn’s manager, Lisa Hancock, clinical director of the Surgical Care Center at Central DuPage Hospital.
The program is off to a great start, and already the IMPACT facilitation team is looking for ways to make it even better. Gina says that after reviewing the most recent employee engagement results, work-life balance rose to the top as an important priority for staff. The team will now begin to incorporate self-care training during IMPACT week to help address this early in an employee’s career. “Starting a new job is a big change and it can be stressful. It’s important to take care of yourself during this time,” she says.
“IMPACT does a good job of getting you ready for your new job,” says Adam. “Everyone has to start somewhere, and IMPACT is a great place to start to help prepare you for your career.”