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The Exec: New Nursing Technology Replicates 'The Best Preceptor You Ever Had'

Analysis  |  By Carol Davis  
   June 26, 2023

Workforce app delivers just-in-time instruction to nurses in varied and bite-sized formats.

Editor’s note: This article appears in the July-September 2023 edition of HealthLeaders magazine.

The challenge to effectively train nurses without enough preceptors led Singing River Health System to turn to technology to get the job done.

Singing River Health, a community-based, not-for-profit healthcare provider for the Mississippi Gulf Coast, piloted the customized Elemeno Health workforce empowerment app at its Pascagoula hospital a little more than a year ago for nurse training and orientation and recently deployed it in numerous departments throughout its entire health system, says Susan Russell, MSN, RN CCRN-CSC, the health system’s chief nursing officer.

The platform provides nurses with a resource hub they can consult for bedside care by delivering hospital best practices in readily digestible resource formats such as interactive guides, how-to video clips, concise updates, and intuitive checklists.

HealthLeaders spoke with Russell about how the technology is benefiting Singing River’s nurses.

This transcript has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.

Susan Russell, CNO, Singing River Health System / Photo courtesy of Singing River Health System

HealthLeaders: Please explain what the technology does for your nurses.

Susan Russell: With high turnover rates, it's been an enormous challenge to get people in and get them trained because we have less people with experience to help train new nurses. Elemeno fits in electronically to meet the need of not having as many preceptors as needed—not having preceptors around the clock.

With the app, we’re able to replicate the best preceptor you ever had and have them available as many times or anytime you need it. Say I am that less-experienced nurse on night shift and I'm not familiar with gastric tubes. I learned virtually in school but maybe I just haven't seen it. Theoretically, you would have a preceptor, an expert clinician, who is there to walk you through every step of what you need to know, what you need to do, what you need to look out for, and what needs further action.

That's what we're able to get with this Elemeno product. Where we used to lean on human resources is now available in electronic format. It really does support our frontline staff on ongoing knowledge and the best evidence-based practice.

HL: How do you ensure that the nurses know how to use it?

Russell: It is so simple. They just hit the icon and anything they need to know is available. They put in the search word—gastric tubes—and it immediately takes them to the lesson for the training or the education that has been built around gastric tubes. It’s also not what you see in a prebuilt platform; it’s our gastric tubes that we use, it’s our equipment, and our supplies. So, it looks very much like what you would expect it to look like if there was a trainer there showing them the ropes and how to use things.

HL: How did you determine what information to include in the app?

Russell: What we're seeing is many staff members who recently graduated or have been hired since COVID did not get trained as well, whether it was in school or after they got out and came into the healthcare system, so we're going back to the drawing board with some of the things that we take for granted that nurses would know, but they don’t; they don’t have the experience that previous nursing generations had.

HL: How did Singing River pilot it before making it available to the entire health system?

Russell: During COVID, there wasn’t as much surgery to do—everybody is aware that many surgeries were completely curtailed during the pandemic—so that seemed like a good place to start because there are so many specific things to train somebody on in surgery.

Every single nurse needs to be trained when they come into a new health system. Say I’m a 20-year nurse; I’m still going to have to have orientation, and some areas take a lot more orientation and surgery is one of them. Our surgery department embarked on having that training placed into an electronic platform so that it can be used 1,000 different times.

They got it up and built about 1½ years ago, and with the platform, they were able to address some of the things that come up in surgery that you don’t see that often along with some of the things that are fundamental that you need to go over time and time again.

We’re also able to give ongoing assignments. Say you’re six months into your nurse training, there will be additional assignments for you to build on, and then I'm going to teach you more things over those six months. This allows you to continue to grow and develop while you’re on orientation or even if you're not on orientation. If there's a new product that comes out or something that we’re seeing as a system that people are missing or not doing correctly, we can send a lesson assignment out. We're going to go step by step and give them everything they need for clarity and consistency.

HL: How have the nurses responded to it?

Russell:  Well, they don’t have to go to class Wednesday morning at nine o'clock after they’ve worked the night shift or if they’re off that day. This is available 24/7.

We used to have workshops and seminars, but the GenXers don't really like that as much. They prefer social media and electronics—that's what they grew up with. They want to be in control of their environment and their home environment, so they don't want to come in for mandatory in-service: "Tell me what I need to know and send it to me so I can look at it when I want to look at it. And if I want to break it up into two different viewings, let me break it up into two different viewings. Don't tell me how to learn; let me decide how I want to learn."

What we're hearing from them is it allows them to reinforce some of the information they got during orientation. Orientation can be overwhelming and maybe someone didn't exactly understand the section on central lines; it allows them to go back and find all the unique parts and pieces of central lines. They can do it when they need that information. If you tell them during orientation, they’re not actually doing so it doesn't gel as much, but if they look at that information and they’re about to use it, the information really is going to be more hardwired.

“Where we used to lean on human resources is now available in electronic format.”

Carol Davis is the Nursing Editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.


Singing River Health System recently deployed new nurse training technology throughout its entire health system.

The platform is customized to Singing River and its different departments.

Nurses indicate that the app helps to reinforce information they learned during orientation.

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