PHOENIX, Ariz. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Before patients get a new knee or hip, should they have to go to boot camp? It’s a two-hour training program that teaches them what to expect before, during, and after surgery, and how they can make the process easier. It has reduced hospital stays and improved patient outcomes.

Five months ago Dennis Dairman received a hip replacement, his second, from Mercy Gilbert Medical Center in Arizona. He says his hip problems date back to the 1960s, when he played forward and guard for Arizona State University’s Sun Devils. This time, he went to a joint boot camp before surgery administered by registered nurse Joan Bolzan.

“When I get up and start to walk I can do it better," Dairman said. "And [Bolzan] explained what exercises to do, and I’ve done them about 1,000 times now.”

Before Mercy Gilbert patients get joints replaced, they have to take the two-hour training program. They learn about pain management, get an orientation of their upcoming surgery and start learning their rehab exercises.

Hundreds of patients have attended joint boot camps held by Bolzan, who has since left Mercy Gilbert.

“It’s 101: the more the patient knows, the better they do," she said. "It decreases their fear, their anxiety. It helps the outcomes on the back end when they are done with surgery.”

Bolzan says in the five years since joint boot camp began, average hospital stays have dropped from three days to two. Dairman believes boot camp is helping him get better faster.

“It’s slower than I want, but it’s getting better. Just takes a long time when you’re 76 years old,” he said.

His doctor told him it might be a year before he can walk unassisted, but he plans to ditch his walker in a few weeks.

Mercy Gilbert’s joint boot camp also educates family members with its coaches program. Boot camp has been so well-received and so successful, there are plans to use a similar program before spine and bariatric surgeries.

Contributors to this news report include: Wendy Chioji, Field Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; and Bruce Maniscalco, Videographer.