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Nurse Residency Programs Pay For Themselves

   August 31, 2010

Summer-graduating nurses are starting their first jobs, and hospitals are beginning the arduous task of turning novices into competent, professional RNs.

The leap from nursing school to practice is tough and many hospitals complain that nursing school does not prepare students for the real world of nursing.

"The newest literature and research says we need to transform nursing education across the nation," says Jim Hansen, supervisor of new graduate and student services at Kootenai Health in Coeur d'Alene, ID. "There's a gigantic gap in the way nurses are currently prepared and how hospitals need them to practice. Thus far, the ones who have been working to bridge the gap are the hospitals."

The concept of nurse residency programs has emerged to fill the gap between school and practice. Similar to physician residency programs, the intent is to continue education, mentoring, and support to enable novices to become competent practitioners.

"There's a very high degree of turnover among new graduate nurses," says Hansen. "The literature varies widely, but it can be as high as 60% in the first year at some hospitals. They spend a lot of money onboarding, training, and orienting these nurses only to have them turn around and leave."

Hansen says a residency program helps increase retention and lower turnover, which justifies the investment in developing a program.

"It always comes down to money," he says. "We can justify the costs incurred by the money saved in reducing nurse turnover."


Rebecca Hendren is a senior managing editor at HCPro, Inc. in Danvers, MA. She edits and manages The Leaders' Lounge blog for nurse managers. Email her at

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