The Impact of Accredited Nurse Residency Programs: CHRISTUS St. Elizabeth

April 1, 2021
April 1, 2021

This blog post is taken from our recent 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.

CHRISTUS St. Elizabeth (Beaumont, TX) was barely a year into its nurse residency program when it decided to pursue accreditation by the ANCC. “It seemed like the natural next step for us,” says Paul Guidroz, Chief Nursing Officer. “Although our residency program was relatively new, we believed it exemplified what was expected for any future Magnet accreditation. Since we were working toward our third Magnet designation, achieving accreditation would further validate the improvement we were achieving with our new graduates’ transition into practice.”

For Kristie Jones, program coordinator, a structured residency program was very important. “When I was a novice nurse, I didn’t have a residency program or a preceptor to help me make the transition from academia to the professional setting. During my graduate studies, I focused on the need for such programs as one of my projects. I learned that accreditation aligned well with our Magnet designation.”

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.” Once the hospital committed financially, the St. Elizabeth team was able to review the application and see that many of the requirements were consistent with Magnet requirements.

Impact on Recruitment and Retention

“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.”

“Our nurse leaders can be more selective hiring new nurses. The residency program then acculturates these new nurses with our mission and values, and they feel welcomed,” says Jones. Before the residency 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.

Part of the Healthcare Team

Accreditation has also had an impact on the nurse-physician dynamic. 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. He also suggested we invite our ancillary leaders in pharmacy, respiratory, and imaging, so our residents would feel that ‘wow’ moment of realizing they are a vital part of a larger healthcare team at CHRISTUS.”

Access the full eBook here.