Boasting a wide-ranging scope of practice and significant presence in patient care, nurses make up the largest percentage of the nation’s healthcare workforce. The demand for nurses continues to grow; however, an estimated 17.5 percent of nurses leave their first nursing job within the first year, often due to a lack of development programs in place to help recent nursing graduates navigate the transition between academic and clinical settings.
To address this dip in nurse retention, Vizient and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) implemented the Nurse Residency Program, which aims to assist recent graduate nurses as they successfully transition into roles as prepared health professionals and nursing leaders. To do this, the program helps participating organizations retain new nurses through an evidence-based curriculum focused on leadership, professional roles, quality outcomes, and specialized nurse topics, such as working in ambulatory care environments. The residents engage in the curriculum through monthly seminars and group discussions.
Additionally, nurse residents are required to complete an evidence-based practice project, which supports the development of critical thinking and clinical reasoning skills. Select projects are displayed as poster or oral presentations at the program’s annual meeting.
Lois J. Book, EdD, MS, RN-BC, pictured to the right, coordinator of the Nurse Residency Program at Tampa General Hospital in Tampa, Fla. – where the Nurse Residency Program is both accredited with distinction by the American Nurses Credentialing Center and a requirement of employment at the hospital – shared that the program has not only increased nurse retention within her organization, but within the profession as a whole.
“When the students complete their senior capstone to obtain their BSN degree, they are evaluating evidence without clinical setting context, patient preference, and staff knowledge,” Lois shared. “When they complete the evidence-based practice project through the Nurse Residency Program, it is specific to their clinical practice setting and makes a difference in how they can deliver care, and how the team as a whole can deliver care.”
Monica Carrington, BA, BSN, RN-BC, shown to the left with her mentor, completed the Nurse Residency Program as a member of the Tampa General Hospital team in 2015, and credits the program with helping her tap into the hospital’s network of nurses, connecting her to resources, and easing her transition from a “student RN” to an “Orientation RN,” or new nurse at the hospital, and later to a clinician and nurse manager on an acute vascular surgical unit.
“I was able to collect data on multiple floors of the hospital and compile helpful data related to equipment nurses use every day,” Monica shared. “It was a ‘light bulb’ moment for all of us completing the evidence-based research project. We could share information gathered with our peers, help direct practice in a safer direction, and challenge the status quo with evidence for best practice.”
Krystelle Sesslar, RN, BSN, CCTN, CVRN-BC, a clinical nurse educator at Tampa General Hospital, shared that the Nurse Residency Program paired her with mentors who continue to serve as a source of guidance during her nursing career.
“I have a strong belief that an organization that invests in its employees will reap the benefits of increased retention, employee satisfaction, and engagement,” Krystelle shared, noting that she is grateful for the connections and opportunities provided through the Nurse Residency Program.
The program’s commitment to supporting nurses as they navigate the transition between school and career at more than 400 organizations nationwide is an important step toward minimizing the number of nurses turning away from the nursing career after their first clinical experience.
“Through this program, we are not just raising the bar for nursing in our organization, but for many other organizations as well,” Lois said.
To learn more about the Vizient/AACN Nurse Residency Program, visit the program's website.