First Nurses Graduate from SOAR-RN Program at Ministry

Sixteen nurses recently took part in graduation ceremonies as the first cohort of Ministry Health Care nurses to complete the SOAR-RN Program.  The SOAR-RN (Supporting Onboarding And Retention of Rural Nurses) Rural Nurse Residency Program is a federally funded program designed to assist new nurses meet the challenges of their new role.

Provided through a partnership among academic and rural practice partners, SOAR-RN is designed to ease new nurses’ transition to practice and acquire the knowledge and skills to autonomously deliver quality care in rural hospitals. By providing training programs for preceptors and a rural-specific nursing curriculum, new nurses are provided with the necessary psycho-social and professional development/educational supports to meet the role challenges of rural nursing practice

Ministry Health Care is one of three health care partners in the nation selected by the Marquette University College of Nursing in Milwaukee to participate in a grant-funded project to create an evidence-based rural nurse residency program.  The grant award will provide programs for rural health care networks in Illinois and Idaho in addition to Ministry. 
Marilyn Meyer Bratt, PhD, assistant professor of nursing at Marquette, serves as the primary investigator of the grant, which was awarded by the Division of Nursing in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Bratt, an Eagle River high school graduate, worked as a newly graduated nurse at the hospital that is now Ministry Eagle River Memorial Hospital. 

The project benefits new nurses’ transition to practice and retention in rural hospitals through an alliance of rural-based health care systems or collaborative networks and academic organizations. By educating experienced nurses to serve as preceptors and mentors, as well as developing a rural nurse residency curriculum consisting of monthly seminars, the program is expected to improve patient care and help create more positive work environments that lead to quality care.

Speakers with clinical expertise present twelve monthly learning sessions organized around a curriculum that builds on nurses’ pre-licensure education, but it is specific to rural nursing practice. The primary goal of the curriculum is to build nurse residents’ capacity for critical-thinking and to provide effective care. Therefore, topics of the learning sessions are based on building nurse residents’ personal competence, practice knowledge and their ability to function as a member of the team, within the organization, and as a member of the profession.

The grant is intended to address the unique challenges that new nurses experience in rural hospitals and access to resources that provide longer-term guidance to support new nurses. 

Alice Kramer, RN, MS is the Coordinator for the Nurse Residency component of the SOAR-RN grant.  She has worked with the grant leaders, Marilyn Bratt and Sandi Van Den Heuvel, Margie LaBarge, Vice President Education & Development, and the Clinical Nurse Educators to design the Ministry specific curriculum and recruit session speakers.  She facilitates the learning at each session to enhance professional development and synergy for the nurse residents between their experiences with general orientation, preceptors and this year long residency.

The first graduates of this program include Susan Barber, Paige Ciszewski, Stephanie Chiapuzio, Brennan Cook, Ashley Draeger, Wendy Hoffman, Amanda Kent, Sarah Keuer, Ashley Klismith, Leann Meyer, Tim Moore, Kerry Nutting, , Olga Peterson, Kristen Stodola, Erin Tuyls, and Nicole Voigt.

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