“I got involved in the mentor program because I want people to feel more comfortable when they come to work.” That’s how Rita Wickline, a Certified Nursing Assistant at LB Homes, started her explanation of why she signed up to be a mentor at LB Homes. The mentor program is making a significant impact on employees at LB Homes, establishing the Broen Home as a top place to work in the Fergus Falls community.
“We didn’t have a mentor program here when I started, and it was tough.” There was a seriousness to Wickline’s comments as she began explaining the benefit of a mentor program. “This program, with Jodi (Fulhart) as our guide is showing us mentors how to reword things, how to react…it starts with the paperwork and goes down the hall with the residents. It covers time management and how to work with other staff. We cover all the skills, from brushing teeth to teaching how to eat. The sky’s the limit here. If you want to learn, we will teach you.”
Jodi Fulhart transitioned from a career in nursing to LB Homes to lead the mentorship initiative at LB Homes. Her work is more than simply on the job training. “When I was a bedside nurse and was training new nurses there were some experiences that didn’t go so well. My heart went out to them,” Fulhart started, explaining the impetus for her passion in mentorship. “It seemed like there were these make or break moments where we could either really support these aspiring nurses and they would want to continue this profession or someone could leave that situation feeling like maybe they’re not cut-out for this.” Fulhart’s gaze lowered, thinking back to her years as a bedside nurse with trainees shadowing her almost wondering where they were now. “I felt it tugging at my heart strings, and I think it was the Lord who brought me here, telling me that I really wanted to start working with staff.”
The LB Homes program is unique, equipping staff to succeed as they engage a career in nursing. “I just think back to my experience being trained, and not that it was a horrible experience, but I definitely felt like I was thrown out there.” Fulhart continued how LB Home’s program is designed to support new and veteran staff as they care for others in what can be a high stress environment. “The curricula to train mentors was built within LB Homes. We select mentors through an application process. The program trains mentors to develop soft skills; communication, problem solving, conflict resolution. When it rolled out into the floors it helped new staff get comfortable in their roles.”
The program has greatly impacted the overall experience at LB Homes for new CNA staff. Since October 1 LB Homes has a retention rate of 88%, with 87% of their staff saying that leaders have the capacity to facilitate learning and development. While the program is currently impacting CNA and maintenance departments, plans to roll out the program to the LPN and RN departments is well underway.
Fulhart has statistics to push her forward, but there is something beneath the surface of the program that is inspiring her and the rest of the LB Homes team to continue their work in mentorship. “I’ve seen this program be amazing for people because it not only builds their skill aptitude, but their confidence because they have someone who is a resource who really believes in them and is rooting for them.”