Background Critical care educators need to train graduate nurses to the especially demanding requirements of pediatric intensive care units (PICUs). The unexpected departure of many experienced, skilled and senior nurses within a short period left our PICU with 20% fewer nurses that reduced the staff below PICU requirements, and threatened to affect the quality of care. The new candidates were graduate nurses that varied widely in length of experience, clinical background, and knowledge.
Objectives To evaluate a strategy for rapid recruitment, evaluation, and orientation of eight new staff members (25% of staff) of a PICU, while maintaining the standard number of nurses at all times, as well as assigning a team of senior staff instructors to carry out the proposed strategy.
Results Seven of the 8 new PICU nurses (one dropped out) are working competently under supervision at 5 months after recruitment, as scheduled. The instructors are very pleased with the results as is the management. There were no untoward events due to the loss of veteran staff members and introduction of nurses heretofore inexperienced in meeting the special demands of a PICU.
Conclusions The design of the orientation program was eminently suitable for the department’s needs. The information in the study materials was highly appropriate for practical application in the PICU setting. Meetings for instruction, evaluation, discussion (especially feedback from the recruits) were vital for the program’s success.