The Success of JFL’s Re-established Graduate Nurse Program

ST. CROIX, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS – In 2023, the Governor Juan F. Luis Hospital & Medical Center (JFL) graduated a total of eleven (11) University of the Virgin Islands graduate nurses through the Graduate Nurse (GN) Program. They successfully passed the NCLEX-RN and were onboarded as full time Registered Nurses at JFL.

The GN Program was re-established in 2022 in collaboration with the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) School of Nursing and support from the Bennie and Martha Benjamin Foundation. It is a career development and training program that supports the successful transition of new graduate registered nurses into clinical practice. “There is a shortage of registered nurses; therefore, investing in our local graduate nurses is vital to the future of JFL. The goal of our Graduate Nurse Program is to build our ranks of locally trained, competent nurses by providing a robust NCLEX RN- review, clinical rotations to various nursing units, coaching and orientation support,” said Chief Nursing Officer, Darice Plaskett, RN, MSA, FACHE. “We are very proud of our graduate nurses that have successfully transitioned to registered nurses at JFL.”

The program is open to all nursing graduates and offers employment for up to one year post graduation with NCLEX RN-Review and clinical rotations with guidance of a Clinical Nurse Educator. Ms. Kayla Smith, a graduate RN, referred to the GN Program as the “fire to my success.”  She recalls her experience by stating, “I was 7 months pregnant with my second child, but the JFL Graduate Nurse Program saw my determination, not my circumstances, and ushered me towards my successful career as a Registered Nurse. The opportunity to rotate units and learn different styles of nursing, while studying for the NCLEX, made it that much easier to understand and link my knowledge to the information that was required to pass on my 1st attempt.”

(Six (6) of eleven (11) Graduate Registered Nurses pictured with Chief Nursing Officer, Darice Plaskett, RN, and Clinical Nurse Educator, Delarie Lewis-Thomas, RN.)  

Similarly, Ms. Khadijah Baltimore, also a graduate RN, said “I am so appreciative that I was able to participate in the GN program. I was able to acquire the skills and self-assurance I needed from this experience to not only sit for but also pass the NCLEX. With the support of my teacher, Mrs. Adeen, as well as my peers and coworkers, I was able to identify my areas of weakness and receive assistance in those areas where I was lacking.”

“The demand for nurses is greater than ever. This is mainly due to a lack of professional nursing development programs available to support them when they transition from academia to a clinical setting” (AACN, 2020). With a national nursing shortage, programs such as the GN Program have been proven to increase quality of care and job satisfaction, yielding increased retention rates.

“The Graduate Nurse Program provides important insights, which allows nurses to practice their skills with real patients under the supervision of professionals,” said Douglas Koch, FACHE, Chief Executive Officer at the Gov Juan F. Luis Hospital & Medical Center.  “It is a great opportunity for JFL to retain and grow our local talent and supply the nursing deficit that we have been historically faced with. I am proud of the hard work put into this program by the students and JFL staff and enthusiastic about the impact that it will have on JFL.”

JFL is committed to the success of the GN Program and looks forward to the ongoing partnership with UVI’s School of Nursing to continue to provide this important support for our nurses. If you are a new graduate nurse and interested in the Graduate Nurse Program to support your preparation for the NCLEX-RN and transition from student nurse to a professional nurse, contact Clinical Nurse Educator, Delarie Lewis-Thomas, at [email protected].