Franklin Wynn always knew his natural willingness to help others would lead to a career in nursing. But becoming an oncology nurse wasn’t on his radar until he participated in one of our academic community partnerships.
As a student in his high school’s Medical Science Academy Program, Wynn spent time at MD Anderson during his senior year participating in clinical rotations.
“Having a chance to come to MD Anderson and witness the teamwork and outstanding care is something I didn’t take for granted,” Wynn says. “In fact, I used the learning experience as a stepping stone to pursue my dreams.”
Giving students the opportunity to participate and observe is only one way we’ve begun to build a nursing pipeline.
From facilitating clinical rotations for students to leading our Professional Student Nurse Externship (PSNE) and Graduate Nurse Residency programs, our Nursing Workforce Planning and Development team focuses on ensuring the best nursing care for all our patients by supporting the nursing staff.
The team has implemented an array of innovative programs to recruit and retain knowledgeable, engaged nursing professionals. These include:
- Rising Stars - This year-long program is for experienced nurses who wish to develop their knowledge and skills for leading at the bedside.
- Professional Student Nurse Externship Program (PSNE) - This program allows nursing students to work in a Magnet-recognized facility like MD Anderson with an interdisciplinary health care team. The program is offered both year-round and as a summer session.
- Graduate Nurse Residency Program - The 12-month program provides the clinical, leadership and socialization training that new graduate nurses need at MD Anderson.
- Academic Nursing Cohort Programs - These programs provide support to our employees who are pursuing initial or advanced nursing degrees from select accredited nursing schools.
- Nurse Counseling Services - The nurse counselor is designated to support Nursing division staff.
- Student Placement - The workforce development team is responsible for placing student nurses throughout the hospital and ensures they’ve met all hospital compliance requirements before starting their training here.
“Bringing students into MD Anderson while they’re making those critical career decisions is a win for everyone involved,” says Debbie Cline, associate director, Nursing Workforce Development. “We’ve developed several partnerships to ensure we have nurses for the future.”
A guided path
Eight years after Wynn first encountered MD Anderson, he now works here as a Leukemia research nurse. After his high school experience here, Wynn went to nursing school and returned to MD Anderson a couple of years later – this time performing clinical rotations as a student. The following summer, when he was accepted into our PSNE program, Wynn became even more interested in cancer.
“The PSNE program provides so much one-on-one time with nurses, much more than nursing school,” Wynn says. “For the summer program, you actually work a 40-hour week, which gives you a good indication if you’re ready to be a nurse and if oncology is a good fit for you.”
PSNE participants develop their nursing skills, time management and critical thinking under the supervision of nurse advisors and participate in seminars taught by clinical experts. This program enables MD Anderson to hire staff members who’ve cared for cancer patients. Since 2006, when 328 nursing students came here for training, the number of participants has quadrupled.
“We have several hundred applicants each time we post graduate nurse positions. We’re getting nurses who want to be here because they know what we’re about,” Cline says. “When I was in nursing school, no one really did their clinical rotations at MD Anderson, but we’ve created a sense that oncology is no longer scary to today’s students. They see how hard we work to achieve the best outcomes for our patients, and they want to be part of our team.”
Coming full circle
Wynn agrees. Once he was hired as an MD Anderson nurse, he began participating in our mandatory Graduate Nurse Residency Program. He credits this program with developing his independence and confidence as a young inpatient nurse.
“I love being a nurse here,” Wynn says. “Each area I’ve been in has helped me grow. Each day in my nursing practice, I see how those experiences have helped me become well rounded in my knowledge of oncology.”
Now involved in researching new treatments for Leukemia patients, Wynn is surprised his career already has come full circle.
“Last year, I earned my master’s in Nursing Education, and I recently began teaching at my old nursing school. The group I’m instructing is actually rotating here at MD Anderson,” he says. “This is the same way I came to MD Anderson when I was in nursing school – so the journey continues.”
A longer version of this article originally appeared in Messenger, MD Anderson’s bimonthly employee publication.