Nurse Residency Programs are on the Rise

The groundbreaking 2010 Institute of Medicine recommendations to transform the profession of nursing by 2020 included implementing nurse residency programs. Executing this recommendation has been surprisingly challenging, but such programs have worked extremely well when they have been implemented.

Not only do such programs save money, they also improve the quality of care. At the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, residents work closely with staff nurses who act as coaches. According to Joan Kavanagh, associate CNO of education and professional development at this institution, nurses who learn with an experienced coach become competent more quickly. This not only saves money, but also improves patient safety.

The nurse residency program at the Cleveland Clinic assesses the nurses before they start their residency to determine where they lack experience and then tailors their training accordingly. Also, the residents are not paid a full salary until they demonstrate a full level of competency. Once they have done so, they receive their full salary while working with a coach.

Kavanagh stated that having the support of a coach, educator, and manager throughout the nurses’ core curriculum has resulted in patients feeling more confident in the care they receive.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is strongly backing nurse residency programs and created grants of up to $150,000 that could be used by action coalitions at the state level. As of mid 2015, six of the 31 allocated state grants have been used for nurse residency programs in Nevada, Arkansas, West Virginia, Utah, Idaho, and Rhode Island.

A study in the Journal of Nursing Administration found a 10% increase in hospitals that offered nurse residency programs between 2011 and 2013. Forty-one percent offered RN residences to new graduates as of 2013.