Residency Programs Help Recruit, Retain Nurses at Two Texas Health Hospitals
05/22/2009

ARLINGTON, Texas — Two Texas Health Resources hospitals are combating an ever-worsening nurse shortage by investing in nurses who are new graduates.

The state’s shortage of 22,000 nurses 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.

To help nurses transition from academia to the bedside, Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital and Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth have implemented more structured on-boarding processes for new graduates through residency programs.

“Nurses stay where they feel like they belong,” said May Dean, R.N., clinical education specialist at Texas Health Arlington Memorial. “By embracing a residency program, we hope to make new nurses feel at home and that they have a place to grow.”

Nurses enrolled in residencies are supported professionally and emotionally by a network of senior nurses who oversee their on-boarding experience. Texas Health Arlington Memorial is the first in North Texas to implement the 18-week Versant R.N. residency 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.

Texas Health Fort Worth is the first hospital in North Texas to implement a med-surge nurse residency program, offering new graduate nurses a two-year comprehensive medical surgical nursing experience through a working and learning environment.

The residency builds upon the new graduate’s nursing education and provides a variety of experiences to build a strong foundation for their future nursing career.

“The goal of the rotational residency program is to give the graduate nurse an experience of a lifetime,” said Kirsten Drake, director of medical-surgical, renal and oncology nursing at Texas Health Fort Worth. “We have found that the nurses in the residency program are impacting the critical thinking skills of our nurses, leading to positive organizational changes throughout the hospital.”

Hospitals that have rolled out residency programs tend to attract new nurse graduates, said Julie Thomas, director of professional practice at Texas Health Arlington Memorial. Nearly 300 nurses have applied for the 24 positions open in the program in Arlington, which starts June 29. In Fort Worth, more than 30 nurses have already participated in the program, and 27 residents have been accepted for the program that starts in June.

“These programs give new nurses more flexibility and time to work with their educators and managers, which increases their engagement with the hospital and nursing profession,” Thomas said.

About Texas Health Resources
Texas Health Resources is one of the largest faith-based, nonprofit health care delivery systems in the United States and the largest in North Texas in terms of patients served. Texas Health’s system of 14 hospitals includes Texas Health Harris Methodist, Texas Health Arlington Memorial, and Texas Health Presbyterian, and an organization for medical research and education. Texas Health Organization for Physicians and Texas Health Physicians Group provide a variety of models for engagement with physicians. Texas Health Partners is a joint venture development and management company owned by Texas Health Resources. Texas Health MedSynergies is a joint venture that offers physicians a range of office management and other business services to support their practices. Texas Health is a corporate member or partner in six additional hospitals and surgery centers. For more information, call 1-877-THR-WELL, or visit TexasHealth.org.