Registered nurses in the primary care setting are under-represented and are vital to high-quality, cost-effective management of populations with complex health conditions.1 Increasing numbers of bachelor-prepared nurses in primary and community-based settings has the potential to improve patient outcomes. However, the absence of clear career pathways and inconsistent role definitions is a barrier to attracting and retaining new nurses in primary care.2 A key factor in increasing new nurses’ consideration of primary care is providing meaningful clinical placements in these areas. Clinical placements have been shown to be a predictive element in students’ decision to enter primary health care and those who participate in evocative primary care placements during their undergraduate career are more likely to identify intent to work in a primary care setting.3
Providing students with a positive clinical learning environment, including supportive nurse mentors, assists in the development of positive attitudes and decisions to work in primary care.3 A positive clinical experience is dependent upon a successful preceptor experience, adequate preceptor role education, and institutional support.4 To facilitate the clinical experience of students selected to participate in a registered nurse primary care (RNPC) scholars program, nursing faculty developed and implemented a clinical mentoring academy that provides training to mentors who would engage students in the primary care setting. The clinical mentoring academy consisted of a one-day workshop that allowed presentation of primary care mentor specific concepts shown to improve nursing retention, including socialization into the organization and stress management.5 The curriculum was designed to be comprehensive with three distinct modules: 1) the basics of primary care, 2) interprofessional education and collaborative practice, and 3) the primary care registered nurse mentor roles and responsibilities. Concepts of resiliency were threaded through each module, as evidence suggests that integrating resilience in undergraduate education is essential for preparing students to persevere through adversities while maintaining physical, mental, and emotional health during their career.6 Content captured in these modules included primary care nurse competencies, social determinants of health, application of interprofessional collaborative practice, mentoring students in primary care settings, and navigating the mentor-mentee relationship. The clinical mentoring academy engaged mentors in activities designed to capture the cognitive, psychomotor, and affective domains of learning. Clinical mentors participated in an interactive game focused on identifying social determinants of health and appropriate interventions at varying levels of prevention. A culminating activity required mentors to exam case studies of difficult mentor-mentee scenarios in primary care and discuss their thoughts as a mentor and from the perspective of the student. Clinical mentors reported feeling more connected to the goals of the RNPC scholars program following completion of the academy. They believed that they were better prepared to foster an effective learning environment and promote resiliency in their care settings. The outcomes of this clinical mentoring academy support a collaborative effort from primary health care nurses, health professionals, and academic institutions to attract and retain new graduate nurses to primary health care.