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SIUE school offers innovative refresher course for SSM Health’s returning nurses

The Southern Illinois University Edwardsville School of Nursing has partnered with SSM Health to offer a contemporary refresher course for newly hired Return to Practice nurses.

The Refresher Education for Acute Care Hires, or REACH, program will launch on Monday, July 8, and be offered every summer for SSM Health.

siueschoolofnursinglogo“New strategies to increase the nursing workforce are continually being developed,” said Roberta Harrison, PhD, RN, SIUE SON associate dean for academic programs and community/global partnerships. “One strategy is developing ways to increase interest in experienced nurses to return to inpatient care.”

“Often, experienced nurses who step away from practice in acute care settings for a variety of reasons, are hesitant to return,” Harrison continued. “These nurses may worry that they do not have the skills and knowledge needed to practice in the current environment. This population represents an untapped, excellent nursing recruitment resource for hospitals seeking acute care nurses.”

REACH was developed by SIUE SON faculty, including Emily York, instructor in family health and community health nursing, and Chelsea Howland, and Mary Frazier, instructors in primary care and health systems nursing. The course will include face-to-face lectures, skills and simulation activities, post-competency evaluations, and “on the job” clinical experience with SSM Health assigned preceptors.

“This will be the first time that SIUE and SSM have collaborated to provide our RTP nurses a dynamic and safe learning environment,” said Elizabeth Vick, clinical onboarding coordinator for SSM Health. “SIUE held an open house to showcase what is in store for RTP candidates, and I was so impressed with the faculty and their excitement with this new partnership. I know that the nurses participating in this program will walk away feeling confident and prepared to return to the bedside.”

Harrison notes the REACH program will allow newly hired SSM Health nurses the opportunity to review fundamental nursing concepts, practice in a contemporary simulated environment, and work side-by-side with SON faculty to review and enhance nursing skills in an inclusive environment.

The program aligns with SSM’s strong commitment to continuing education in order to bring out the excellence in each and every participating nurse.

“The nurses participating will once again be able to take pride in their nursing work with the encouragement of the SIUE faculty,” Vick concluded. “Healthcare is an evolving field, and with the program that SIUE has cultivated, our RTP nurses will be able to provide safe and healing care to meet the complex needs of our patients.”

The SIUE SON is in contact with community hospitals in the surrounding region who are interested in implementing this innovative recruitment and development program. For more information, contact Harrison at or (618) 650-3972.

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