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HealthStream Living Labs: Talking About Nurse Residency Pathways

In this issue of the PX Advisor we focus squarely on nursing, on human resources and training challenges, in light of the changing healthcare environment. This post excerpts a Q&A with Shirley Sampson DNP, MA, RN, RN-BC, NEA-BC, Coordinator of the Nurse Residency Program at Stanford Health Care, about the theory and practice involved in the Nurse Residency Pathway, as well as about her experiences leading several cohorts of new nurses through the program. Subscribe to PX Advisor.

 

What are the challenges faced by new nursing graduates as they enter the workforce?

The reality of the workplace is light years apart from what new nurses experience in school. The learning gained in nursing school doesn’t always prepare these new nurses for practicing and for handling a large number of patients. Challenges include having the emotional intelligence to care for the complex patient that we face nowadays, time management, and possessing the right clinical skills, just to name a few.

How long is the nurse residency pathway you recommend?

Here in California there is an action group based on Recommendation 3 from the IOM Report, The Future of Nursing, which looked at nurse residency programs across the state. There is actually a wide variety in terms of what are called nurse residency programs. Some are chiefly orientation and look at just the tasks involved in being a nurse. Others that are more extensive, especially those lasting as long as a year, show far higher retention. The literature indicates that a one year program, like ours, is much more desirable than a 6-month program or 12 weeks of orientation. At the 6-month mark, the novice nurse really begins to realize what is not known. At this time, across the board, there is a dip in confidence, in competence, and in emotional strength. When programs stop at six months, that’s when new nurses often quit their hospitals or even the profession. When you continue that nurse residency with seminars and professional development beyond this period, it’s clearly been shown that nurses are more likely to be retained by the hospital where they are employed. They are more likely to strengthen into more engaged practitioners and have interest beyond the unit towards leadership and in personal certifications. Ultimately, this training investment builds a stronger workforce that is more engaged and practices increased patient safety.

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