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The Benefits of Nurse Residency Program Accreditation

In a recent conversation about nurse residency programs, HealthStream’s Kimberly Herold, Director of Professional Development Pathways, and Kimberley Guthrie, Senior Pathways Engagement Coach, spoke about the value of accreditation.

What is your opinion of ANCC’s new accreditation program for nurse residency programs

Herold: I think it’s very beneficial for our customers. I’ve watched so many organizations struggle with knowing how to operate their nurse residency programs, and now ANCC has given them a compass that points them where they need to go. ANCC and CCNE are the two organizations with accrediting programs, but the majority of our customers cannot fulfill the academic affiliation requirement for CCNE. When developing our Nurse Residency Pathway, I looked to the ANCC accreditation and built our program in a way that would help our customers satisfy their requirements. Those accreditation requirements have served as a guidepost and allowed us to understand the goals that our customers should have for their program.

Would you say that some organizations are still struggling to know what standards to measure their programs against?

Herold: Unfortunately, yes. A lot of our customers aren’t aware of the ANCC standards and their accreditation program, or they feel that accreditation is either completely out of reach or still several years away. However, in the past year we have seen an increase of customers who are asking about accreditation. It seems that customers are beginning to recognize the importance of accreditation and what it can mean for their organization from a competitive standpoint.

Why should a healthcare organization consider accrediting their nurse residency program?

Herold: First of all, if a program is accredited, it helps the organization demonstrate that their program is on the right track. Accreditation doesn’t require organizations to have a perfect program, it requires them to acknowledge where they stand and create an actionable plan for where they want to take their program. Secondly, an accredited program gives hospitals a competitive edge over other hospitals in their area. And finally, the components of an accredited program are designed to create a well-rounded approach to developing new graduate nurses. The programs that qualify for accreditation are set up to build a much stronger foundation for new nurses, providing them with a supportive structure from which to start their career. This creates the space for nurses to develop required skills, critical thinking, and intuitive practice through clinical opportunities.

Are there other ways healthcare organizations would benefit from accrediting their nurse residency program?

Guthrie: An organization’s recruitment efforts could significantly improve from having an accredited program. Schools of nursing are recommending that their graduates seek out organizations that have a residency program and when possible, an accredited residency program. The gap between academic achievement and practice has been acknowledged by both schools of nursing and practice settings. An accredited residency program is a strong solution to closing this gap.

Herold: I think turnover reduction may be another significant benefit of accreditation for most hospitals. A well-run residency program helps nurses to develop the coping skills that help them through some of the greatest challenges nurses face and to prevent them from being driven out of the profession. What we’re seeing so far is that at a minimum, residency programs should be able to impact an organization’s turnover by a couple of percentage points a year, which typically means millions of dollars to an organization. Those dollars could be reinvested into other areas to support their nursing staff—to help their nurses achieve their own certifications and accreditations, be put back into nursing education within the organization, or help their nurses get higher education.

Additionally, accredited programs are contributing to the profession at large by putting a meaningful structure to the onboarding of new nurses. We know from the literature that most hospital leaders do not believe nurses graduate from school ready to practice, so the decision to hire new graduates brings with it a responsibility to help them build a solid foundation. On the flip side, organizations such as the NLN (The National League for Nursing) are encouraging their member organizations to educate new graduate nurses about the importance of seeking out a good residency program for their first position. I think this will be a future differentiator for an individual nurse applying for a job. Finally, while on the journey to accreditation, our Pathway gives hospitals the opportunity to look at data and to measure outcomes in a unique way so that they can give feedback to the nursing schools who supply them with new graduate nurses. This helps the schools identify where their gaps are, improve their programs, and thereby improve the readiness of new graduates.

Read the full Q&A in our eBook here. Learn more about HealthStream Clinical Development solutions.

About Kimberly Herold

Kimberly Herold leads the development, strategy, and execution for the Pathways products, including the Nurse Residency Pathway. Her background as a nurse, clinical educator, nursing director, and consultant developed her passion to improve the foundation nurses are given as they start their careers and ultimately led her to HealthStream. Herold was actively involved in the accreditation process for CHRISTUS St. Elizabeth’s nurse residency program.

About Kimberly Guthrie

Kim Guthrie has extensive experience with designing and evaluating nurse residency programs that include a focus on competency assessment and validation. Her role at HealthStream is to guide organizations in implementing the Pathway products based on customer resources and goals. Guthrie joined the HealthStream team after the accreditation was awarded but is well versed in the accreditation criteria and is committed to helping customers achieve this goal.

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