Nurse Residency Program Helps Recruit, Retain Staff at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hosptial Southwest Fort Worth|
FORT WORTH, Texas — A new nurse residency program at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Southwest Fort Worth is helping to attract new graduates by offering a more structured, supportive on-boarding process.
The Versant RN residency program, an 18-week process that helps transition new nurses from academia to the bedside, had more than 100 applicants for each of the 11 positions available in this summer’s program. During those first months of working with patients, newly-graduated nurses are supported professionally and emotionally by a network of senior nurses who oversee their experience. At the end of the program, nurses gain the equivalent of 17 months of hands-on experience.
“By embracing a residency program, we provide new nurses with an immersion process that supports them clinically and professionally,” said Sheree Henson, MSN RN-BC, LCCE, the hospital’s Versant residency manager. “Residency programs use nurse preceptors, educators, managers, and mentors to give new nurses a strong foundation which increases their engagement with the hospital and the nursing profession.”
Texas Health hospitals in Arlington, Dallas, Cleburne, and Hurst-Euless-Bedford also offer the program, which involves classroom training with the hospital’s staff, working with a preceptor to learn application of skills at the bedside, and mentoring. Debriefing sessions with the residents offer feedback and help with continual improvement. A web-based program helps monitor and track the resident’s professional growth.
The state’s nursing shortage is expected to grow to 70,000 by 2020, according to the Texas Hospital Association. Part of the problem is the high turnover rate for new nurses — an estimated one in five leave their first job within a year.
“Being a new nurse just starting out is such a scary feeling as well as overwhelming,” said Kim Knotts, RN, a resident in this summer’s program. “The way the program is designed helps a new nurse resident build their skills levels, take what they have learned in nursing school and apply it at the bedside. Speaking for myself, starting out in the beginning precepting with a nurse who has been a nurse for only a few years is comforting, she too can remember the feelings of stepping out onto the floor for the very first time.”
Henson said connecting new nurses with experienced ones makes all the difference in the new graduates’ transitions.
“Nurses need the residency just as physicians do,” she said. “It is up to us ‘seasoned’ nurses to guide new nurses in organizational skills, time management, prioritization and critical thinking.”
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