Up to 15% of the nursing staff in an average hospital are new graduate nurses within their first year of practice. With as many as 17% of new graduate nurses leaving their jobs within the first year and 31% within the second year, nurse leaders believe residency programs will play a huge role in improving retention. Considering that hospitals spend $85,000 per nurse turnover annually, retention of new nurses can mean a significant healthcare cost savings.
Since 2014, ANA’s American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) has offered accreditation of nurse residency, RN fellowship, and APRN fellowship programs. Accreditation uses evidence-based criteria to recognize applicants who demonstrate excellence in transitioning nurses to new practice settings.
Here are a few of the reasons accreditation of nurse residency programs offers great promise and value:
CHRISTUS St. Elizabeth, which already had a reputation for innovation and a willingness to take on challenges, chose to pursue accreditation based on their pilot of HealthStream’s Nurse Residency Program. According to Paul Guidroz, Chief Nursing Officer, they felt that “achieving accreditation would further validate the improvement we were achieving with our new graduates’ transition into practice.”
Michelle Hammerly, Director of Education for CHRISTUS Southeast Texas Health System, saw the competitive value of accreditation. “Magnet designation provides a certain elite status because so few hospitals have achieved it. We realized even fewer hospitals had the ANCC residency accreditation.”
An accredited program adds to the reputation of an organization as a desirable place to work. Recently, “two-thirds of the local universities’ December nursing graduates applied for positions at St. Elizabeth. We credit most of this success to our residency program. Our best ambassadors are our most recent residency nurses,” remarks Guidroz. Hammerly adds, “One of our competitors is offering sign-on bonuses. One new graduate told us that they would be more interested in a robust residency program than a sign-on bonus. The word is out in our community that our program is good, and it’s the place to start if you’re a new nurse.”
An effective, supportive residency program, as required for accreditation, helps new recruits to feel more strongly that they belong to an organization. “The residency program then acculturates these new nurses with our mission and values, and they feel welcomed,” says Kristie Jones, program coordinator at CHRISTUS St. Elizabeth. Before the residency program was established, St. Elizabeth’s retention percentage for new nurses was in the mid-80s; the first three residency classes have a 92% retention rate.
Accreditation has also had an impact on the nurse-physician dynamic and interaction. Hammerly recalls a recent meeting where the residency program came up in conversation. “The doctor who is our new vice president of medical affairs, as well as our chief medical informatics officer, asked if he could be part of our residency program. He wanted to come in and talk to new nurses about team dynamics and team structure in healthcare.”
This article was based on the HealthStream eBook, Do You Do a Good Job Transitioning Nurses to New Practice Settings? – CHRISTUS St. Elizabeth and ANCC Show Benefits of an Accredited Nurse Residency Program. The articles in this eBook document the benefits and share best practices of pursuing the accreditation from three perspectives—nurse leadership at CHRISTUS and St. Elizabeth, leaders at ANCC, and nursing coaches at HealthStream.
Access the eBook here.
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