Understanding the Accreditation of Nursing Transition of Practice Programs

April 1, 2021
April 1, 2021

This blog post is an excerpt 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.

The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) recognizes excellence among individual nurses, as well as healthcare organizations. Since 2014, the ANCC has offered accreditation of nurse residency, RN fellowship, and APRN fellowship programs.

The Practice Transition Accreditation Program (PTAP)™ uses evidence-based criteria to accredit programs that demonstrate excellence in transitioning nurses to practice settings. PTAP Director Sheri Cosme, DNP, RN-BC explains that the ANCC offers three designations. “RN residencies are for nurses with less than 12 months’ experience, RN fellowships are for experienced nurses mastering new clinical settings, and APRN fellowships are for newly certified advanced practice nurses.”

A Demonstration of Investment in the Nursing Workforce

“ANCC can credential any type of program where a nurse is transitioning, that has prepares nurses for that transition. PTAP is one way a hospital can tell the public, its nurses, potential nurse employees, and physicians that it has achieved excellence in its transition to practice programs.”

Nurse residency programs offer a much-needed opportunity for new nurses to transition to roles in specialized areas such as critical care, obstetrics, pediatrics, and surgical specialties.

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.

The Accreditation Process

PTAP looks at the entire transition period from day one of hire until the end of the program. Sheri says accreditation is an effective way of keeping nurses within their organizations. To be accredited, programs must have strong development and design principles. “Basically, they must have the right people in the right spot on the bus, and they must collect outcomes that measure the success of their program,” says Sheri. “Accreditation is about the competence of the nurse at the bedside. PTAP standards assess what happens on nursing units with preceptors,” she adds.

“To be accredited ‘with distinction,’ the program not only meets the standards with no progress reports, but it also demonstrates innovation or exemplary practice.”

The accreditation process has several phases: the application, self-study, quantitative review, qualitative review, virtual visit, and then a final report to our 15-member commission on accreditation. The commission members have expertise in transition of practice, leadership roles, continuing education, and interprofessional education.

A subsequent post will include advice for organizations considering accreditation.

About Our Expert

Sheri Cosme, DNP, RN-BC is the director of The Practice Transition Accreditation Program (PTAP)™ at the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANNC). HealthStream spoke with Dr. Cosme recently about accrediting nurse residencies and other transition of practice programs. For providers hoping to establish a nurse residency program for new graduate nurses, HealthStream’s Nurse Residency Pathway offers a structured yet flexible program designed to address the challenges faced by new graduate nurses. The pathway helps to close the academic-to-practice gap, so that hospitals can retain safe, competent, and confident nurses who are prepared to continue their professional growth.

Access the full eBook here.