Nurse Residency Gives New Hires a Soft Landing

Nurse residency students practicing

Kali Gardner, BSN, asked if CHI Health had a Nurse Residency program when she interviewed for her position as med-surg unit nurse at CHI Health Good Samaritan. It’s something she heard about while completing her degree at Nebraska Methodist College in Omaha.

Gardner is now among the first group of participants in CHI Health’s new Nurse Residency program. Her initial reaction after just three sessions: “This is more like real life,” Gardner said. “In school, we have lectures and 70 percent is not what happens in real life. I like that this is hands-on.” She also likes the program’s cohort model.

“Everyone around me is new and we’re all working in different areas. It’s nice hearing what things they have encountered,” Gardner said “I like getting that extra feedback from other people going through the same thing as me.” That’s exactly what the Nurse Residency program is designed to accomplish.

“Hopefully nurses going through the program are more connected and have a better understanding of their work,” said Beth Gibbs, MS, RN, interim director of the Center for Clinical Practice.

The program launched in June and is a consolidation of efforts at the various CHI Health campuses. “Everyone had their own program and they were of varying lengths,” Gibbs said. “We wanted to standardize the program and have a set calendar. Now they’re all on the same date and they have the same content.” The initial work began in February of this year. “Kathy Bressler, who was then our chief nursing officer, pulled together a work group of educators across the division and frontline staff,” said Rebecca Hubbard, BSN, RN, clinical education specialist.

The group reached out to division experts to draw on the wealth of knowledge that is available across CHI Health to develop the year-long program.

“We simultaneously revamped the Preceptor program and the Nurse Residency program to meet the needs of not only our new graduate nurses but also nurses that are new to our facility,” said Hubbard. “This was made a priority because what our preceptors begin in our Nurse Residency is hopefully continuing — and at its core that is the support and development of new nurses.”

Adjusting to the complexities of the profession can take time for new nurses. Some may wonder: “What did I get myself into?” That’s when support is critical.

“That’s the reason we chose to do a cohort format,” Hubbard said. “We decided: let’s put them in groups so they can go through this together.”

The Nurse Residency program also makes time for debriefing. It’s an opportunity to discuss individual successes as well as what may have happened that was confusing or troubling. “It’s a safe place that’s not in your chain of command or on their floor,” Hubbard said. “We never want our nurses to feel they’re not supported. It’s about developing that resiliency personally and professionally. We want to set them up for success.”