Nurse Residency Programs

We all know that nurses are in high demand, that they have been for a long time, and that they will continue to be into the foreseeable future. The nursing shortage — which is a result of the retiring Baby Boomer generation, a larger percentage of the population gaining access to healthcare through the Affordable Care Act, and nurses and nurse faculty retiring — is definitely cause for concern. Fewer nurses means more patients per nurse, which in turn has a negative effect on patient outcomes. Fewer nurses also means longer hours, and longer hours can cause a higher turnover rate due to tired or burned-out nurses. Tired and unhappy nurses also have a negative effect on patient outcomes.

Oddly enough, despite the nursing shortage, jobs for BSN-prepared nurses can still be hard to come by. As in most other industries, hiring managers want experienced applicants, and applicants need jobs to get experience. Even though BSN-prepared nurses graduate with training in leadership, evidence-based practice and informatics, many acute care facilities find their experience lacking. Recent graduates and nursing schools recognize that new nurses need to be more organized and better at setting priorities. Strong communication skills are also crucial for interacting with physicians, team members, and patients and their families. In 2013, the University of Rhode Island came up with a solution: Rhode Island’s first nurse residency program. Today, there are many nurse residency programs but none like URI’s.

Standard Nurse Residency Programs

Most nurse residency programs require recent graduates of BSN programs to work for a year at a hospital under a preceptor nurse. Like university programs, these nurse residency programs must also be accredited. The idea is to give new nurses the skills and confidence they need to give great patient care. Often, recent BSN-prepared nurses who are not in residency programs find themselves overwhelmed by their first positions. They have problems with real-world problem-solving, the emotional toll patients and their families can take and the realities of 12-hour shifts and overnight schedules. A 2007 study authored by Dracup and Morris predicts a nurse turnover rate of no less than 50 percent until 2017. According to Nurse Residency Programs: An Essential Requirement for Nursing published in Medscape: Nurses,

“It is evident from UHC/AACN research on new graduate residency programs that residents start out very positive about their abilities. By approximately three months for medical-surgical units and six months for critical care units, residents are taking patient-care assignments themselves. Reality shock has set in, and self-perceptions about skills and abilities as well as satisfaction with various aspects of nursing plummet as residents realize how much they have to learn and how difficult the job of nursing really is. By the end of the one year, residents are regaining their confidence and can competently care for very ill patients and are given the accompanying autonomy and responsibility.”

The University of Rhode Island’s Nurse Residency Program

Supported by the Governor’s Workforce Board of Partnership Grant, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island, AARP, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Future of Nursing State Implementation Program and the Passport to Practice Nurse Residency program, URI’s nurse residency program is unique, and it is the first of its kind.

As well as giving new nurses the confidence, skills and experience they need to succeed in the field, the University of Rhode Island’s nurse residency program focuses on job placement. Perfect for underemployed and unemployed nurses and new nurse graduates, this program offers the experience that hiring managers are looking for. This program is also helpful for BSN-prepared nurses who have been out of the practice for a while due to changes in their families, locations or careers. This nurse residency program also offers interview coaching and help with resumes and cover letters. Eighty-eight percent of the nurses participating in the first year of the program were offered jobs before the program ended.

Many nurse residency programs are affiliated with a specific hospital or agency, and nurses spend their entire residencies in rotation at that one facility. URI’s residency program is not affiliated with any one hospital, so nurses train in at least three facilities of differing specialties. For example, nurses in the URI program may work in nursing homes, ERs, community health centers or obstetrics facilities during their residencies, giving them more experience and a better understanding of how they would like to specialize. By working in different settings, nurses also enjoy a greater opportunity to network with other nurses and hiring managers.

Other Benefits of URI’s Nurse Residency Program

Resident nurses work one-on-one with preceptors, gaining wisdom from veterans in the field. Working with different mentors also helps develop nurses’ leadership styles. Free, weekly seminars are available to all participants. Nurses in the program also take part in case studies and simulations, which solidifies their knowledge of evidence-based care. This program also offers a year of professional liability insurance. URI’s nurse residency program, in particular, also offers individual job placement.

The Path to a Rewarding Career in Nursing

The need for nurses is well-documented. The number of retirees is on the rise, meaning more people need more healthcare. Nurses and nurse faculty approaching retirement are also on the rise. The call for more BSN-prepared nurses means many nurses will go beyond an associate of nursing as their terminal degree. Because of the growing number of online programs, it has never been easier for people to enroll in a program and earn their bachelor’s degree in nursing. Until recently, graduating with a BSN was the final step before the job search, but many employers may want evidence of experience in bedside care, evidence-based practice, leadership and handling the everyday stresses of the job. Nurse residency programs, particularly the program at URI, give nurses this experience. They also offer the job placements services every new graduate needs.

Learn more about the URI online RN to BSN program.


URI: Nurse residency program launches careers

URI: New Nursing Residency Program

Medscape: Nurse Residency Programs: An Essential Requirement for Nursing

Health Check: Passport to Practice

Providence Business News: People Education Industries Health Services Personnel

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