Connected Care: How Atrium Health’s Virtual Nurse Shadowing Program Eases Clinician Burnout

With the continuing staff shortages in health care, more care is being provided by less experienced nurses. To provide support to recent nursing graduates, Atrium Health in North Carolina launched its Virtual Nursing Shadowing Program in March 2021.

The program connects new nurses with veteran nurses via video. Many experienced nurses are approaching retirement age or, due to pandemic-exacerbated burnout, are interested in leaving medicine for good. The program offers nurses who no longer want to work at the bedside an alternative way of caring for patients that offers more flexibility.

The pandemic has exerted stressors not only on practicing nurses, but also on those in training.

“Nursing school students haven’t had the same experience as some more experienced nurses because their clinical rotations have been cut short,” says Becky Fox, vice president and director of nursing informatics at Atrium Health.

Patient rooms use one of two configurations to allow observation of the virtual nursing program. The new facilities have audio and video capabilities, so a push of a button summons the virtual nurse, who appears on the screen. Older installations use wheeled poles with mounted cameras, speakers, microphones and monitors. Atrium Health uses the Caregility telehealth platform, Cerner cameras and software, and Microsoft Teams.

The organization was already using video in other areas, such as connecting to translators and disease education specialists. Atrium Health expects the use of video capabilities to grow further.

DISCOVER: Find out how virtual nursing programs are helping hospitals overcome staffing shortages.

Ryan H. Bowman