Designed to foster lifelong learning, academic progression and continuing competencies, Cleveland Clinic’s Nurse Residency Program is focused on preparing new nurse graduates for the professional path ahead. The innovative program, which was created to empower incoming nurses with a full year of individualized, holistic clinical learning, achieved Accreditation with Distinction from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) in 2020. In addition, the one-year residency has been designated an Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Program by the United States Department of Labor.
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“New nurse graduates often enter the workforce with enthusiasm and a great deal of ‘book’ knowledge, but few arrive with the confidence and clinical judgment needed to really hit the ground running,” explains Kathryn Stuck Boyd, MSN, NPD-BC, Nurse Manager in the Office of Nursing Education and Professional Development. “Academic literature and practical experience tell us that nurses need additional support to make that transition successfully, and I think that is particularly true of those who were students during the COVID-19 pandemic. The purpose of our residency program is to help these new graduates grow from being students to independent practitioners to flourishing nurses by the one-year mark.”
The residency, which has expanded rapidly since its creation in 2014, now graduates between 1,000 and 1,200 nurses each year. Stuck Boyd says that the program’s competency- and simulation-based approach, which tailors education to each learner’s specific needs, distinguishes it from other residencies. Cleveland Clinic is among only 3% of medical centers across the globe with a nurse residency program that has earned ANCC accreditation with distinction.
“The ANCC sets a high bar, so it’s incredibly affirming to see the hard work of our nursing education and professional development team be acknowledged in this way,” says Stuck Boyd, who directs the residency program.
From the start, each resident is paired with a success coach – a nursing professional development specialist dedicated to supporting the nurse throughout their entire first year of practice. The coach offers guidance, connects residents to resources, encourages critical thinking, and fosters career development every step of the way. During the first week of residency, the nurses meet with their success coach to review an individualized orientation plan, which is guided by Success Navigator, an artificial intelligence-supported program that helps identify strengths and opportunities for growth.
“Our program is driven by the individual needs and interests of our residents,” she says. “Our goal is to harness all the tools we have – from high-fidelity simulation to one-on-one bedside mentorship – to meet all of our learners where they are. We strive to give them the contextual experiences they need to challenge their development and provide competent care for the rest of their careers.”
In a practice profession, learning is best supported in context – on the unit. Nurses begin with a 10- to 12-week core nursing orientation during which they are paired with an expert clinical preceptor.These preceptors are the lynchpins in early assimilation, modeling best practices and helping nurse residents sharpen their clinical judgment.
“Residents are given the opportunity to learn at their own pace while being constantly supported by a team of teams dedicated to their success,” Stuck Boyd says. “The same is true of our preceptors, who have access to a wide range of ongoing learning opportunities, including in-person classes, simulations, and online modules.”
Once orientation has been successfully completed, nurses progress to the first of two tiers of the residency program: training in their chosen area of specialty. Options include Critical Care, Emergency Care, Behavioral Health, Medical/Surgical, Step-Down Unit, Obstetrics, Neonatal, and Pediatrics.
The second tier of the residency program, which begins near the six-month mark, uses a Success Navigator reassessment to guide ongoing training.
The way in which nurses should – and need – to be learning has changed, explains Stuck Boyd, who emphasizes the transformational role that an accredited residency program can play in a new graduate’s success.
“We are able to excel by adhering to the rigorous, evidence-based accreditation standards established by the ANCC,” she says. “The ‘distinguished’ designation is further testament to Cleveland Clinic’s commitment to lifelong learning and world-class patient care.”