The Value of Nurse Residency Programs (Podcast)

Nurse residents gain the skills – and confidence – to care for complex patients

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Transitioning from nursing school to clinical nursing can be challenging. Nurse residency programs provide extra support to ensure the transition is successful and new graduates can flourish as independent practitioners.

“What we’re really helping our nurses do in a residency program is apply all of those amazing things they’ve learned [in school],” says Kathryn Stuck Boyd, MSN, NPD-BC, education manager for Nursing Education and Professional Development. She also serves as director of the accredited Nurse Residency Program at Cleveland Clinic, which enrolls approximately 1,500 nurse residents a year.

In a recent episode of Cleveland Clinic’s Nurse Essentials podcast, Stuck Boyd shares insight on nurse residency programs, including:

  • What new nurse graduates should look for in a residency program
  • The difference between orientation and residencies
  • The importance of residencies providing holistic support and supporting nurses’ well-being
  • How nurse leaders and preceptors can support residency programs
  • Documented outcomes of nurse residency programs, including improved retention

Click the podcast player above to listen to the episode now, or read on for a short edited excerpt. Check out more Nurse Essentials episodes at my.clevelandclinic.org/podcasts/nurse-essentials or wherever you get your podcasts.

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Podcast excerpt

Podcast host Carol Pehotsky, DNP, RN, NEA-BC: Can you talk just a little bit more about that transition from that initial orientation – eight, 10, 12 weeks, whatever that looks like – and really getting into the tasks and the assignment, etc.? Then what does the rest of that residency look like? How does that program grow and blossom, and how does that help that nurse grow and blossom?

Stuck Boyd: So, I like to think of orientation and residency as two pieces. Orientation is when you very simplistically learn how to walk. You get the basics. But residency is when you learn how to run. Residency is when you really hit that marathon. And you are challenged throughout. And then when you get to the end of residency, it’s an amazing accomplishment.

And thinking about orientation, it is that foundation. It’s learning the basics for knowledge and skills. It’s learning what are the standards of patient care on your unit, how do you talk to providers. You have to get comfortable during orientation asking questions.

Pehotsky: Of a variety of people and providers and titles for sure.

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Stuck Boyd: Absolutely. And that can be hard. You have to kind of demonstrate a little bit of vulnerability to ask questions. And as a new grad, you might not want to do that. But you have to. That’s how you keep your patients safe. So foundation during orientation.

Residency is all about continued development and challenging your competency and challenging you as a professional. So when I say challenging your competency it is those patient problems that are maybe more complex in that they are maybe more exotic diagnoses – things that you don’t see every day. And when you do, you have to have a really strong foundation to be able to pull all those pieces together.

Pehotsky: Sure. That assessment and critical thinking …. We used to just rely on our road smarts and a little bit of time to put those things together, and we don’t necessarily have that kind of time now.

Stuck Boyd: Exactly. So, residency is meant to be a safe space to give you those experiences. So that way, when the patient comes in the door, you feel a little bit more prepared.