"At the time, we had a lot of tenured nurse managers who had been in the roles for I'd say 15–20 years, and they knew that we were going to have turnover," says Valerie Adams, RN, MSN, MBA, CCRN, director of nursing at Lancaster General. "They started seeking out, 'How do we better prepare people for going into the nurse manager role?' "
Kimberly Callahan, RN, BSN, NE-BC, nurse manager for the vascular surgical unit, was one of the first participants in the nurse manager residency when it began over a decade ago.
She says the program was invaluable in helping her develop skills specific to the role.
"I think the first skill is being a visionary and actually sharing that vision so your team has a purpose and they know what they're working toward. That's really important for our goals that we have as a nursing department," she says.
To take part in the program, nurses must have a bachelor's degree and three to four years of bedside nursing experience.
Those interested in becoming nurse manager residents fill out an application for the program after they've shadowed and interviewed three nurse managers, explains Adams.
They then go through an interview process with a team of nurse managers, a human resources representative, and the nursing directors.
Candidates take a personality factors test to identify their strengths and weaknesses to help connect them with the preceptor best suited to their needs.
There are usually one to two cohorts per year consisting of two to three residents.
Each resident is assigned a preceptor. To give them the chance to observe different leadership styles, residents rotate preceptors each quarter over the yearlong program.
They meet monthly with Adams, who oversees the program.
"We talk through different things because I want to be sure they're viewing situations through a leadership level not through the staff nurse level," she says.
Since its inception, 20 nurse manager residents have gone through the program. Two relocated out of state and two were nurse managers for a short time before going back to the bedside.
"Otherwise, everyone else is in a nurse manager role or some other kind of nurse leadership role within the organization," says Adams.
Jennifer Thew, RN, is the senior nursing editor at HealthLeaders.