Regional One Health’s Prescription for Nursing Shortage: Unique Nurse Residency Program

May 07, 2023 at 09:37 pm by pjeter


Regional One Health’s prescription for addressing the nursing shortage called for a new nurse residency program. The hospital system built the nurse residency program to attract and retain nurses as the nursing shortage across the country is anticipated to intensify due to a number of factors including aging Baby Boomers who will require additional health care and struggling nursing schools across the country as they work to expand student capacity to meet the rising educational demand for health care.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the registered nursing workforce is expected to grow by 6 percent over the next decade from 3.1 million in 2021 to 3.3 million in 2031, creating 200,000 positions. The Bureau also projects additional openings of over 203,000 positons for RNs each year through 2031 due to nurses retiring and

others leaving the nursing profession. That means over half a million RN positions will need to be filled. Nurse leaders at Regional One Health kicked off a nurse residency program in 2021 to help address the current demand and prepare for the rising number of nurses that will be needed in the near future.

“What sets our program apart from other hospitals is that we developed our own curriculum to specifically focus on what our nurses are interested in discussing and learning,” said Rachel Kemp, VP of nursing and associate chief nursing officer for Regional One Health. “The focus can change from year to year, as our nurses take ownership of the program and choose issues and challenges to address that are meaningful to them.”

Cyanne Dyson knows firsthand how beneficial the residency program at Regional One Health is. She was among the first group to graduate from the residency program. Being fresh out of nursing school, she found the residency program at Regional One Health to be invaluable.

“It really helped me find a sense of belonging and helped me connect with other nurses who were facing similar struggles,” said Dyson.

Nursing is a high stress job, especially today with the nursing shortage and the world trying to find its way back to some sense of normalcy after COVID-19. With the nursing shortage, nurses are stretched thin and working nonstop until they clocked out, making mentoring a challenge.

“I really needed a support system and the residency program turned out to be the perfect program to provide the support I needed as a new nurse. It created a group of nurses who were experiencing many of the same challenges,” said Dyson.

The group meets monthly and exchanges ideas. Dyson found exchanging ideas really helped. The nurses would discuss what worked with them in particular situations and come up with new and innovative ways of handling issues.

“It was a great support group,” Dyson said. “I’ve developed some great friendships that will be with me for my entire life.”

Dyson said that it was very important that nursing leadership listened to them, and they did. Dyson says they created more classes and training.

Kemp views the residency program as a huge success. She says the program has reduced turnover of first-year nurses by more than 50 percent.

“We’re committed to creating a culture that makes nurses want to stay,” said Kemp. “We provide additional support, education, and growth for nurses through their first year to help them acclimate and put them on a firm path for where they want their nursing career to take them.”

The nurse residency program is a 12-month program that is open to all nursing school graduates who are eligible to sit for the Registered Nurse exam and all new nurses who have held their Registered Nurse license for one year or less. The program is ideal for nurses who want to develop their patient care and leadership skills through real-world experience and targeted mentorship. It consists of monthly meeting programs focused on peer-to-peer education, skill development, and performance review and improvement. Residents also have training, mentorship and shadowing opportunities and an individualized development plan to guide their nursing career into the future.

Another benefit that the nurse residency program at Regional One Health offers is the opportunity to work in one of the hospital’s unique Centers of Excellence such as trauma, burn, neonatal intensive care, and high-risk pregnancy.

Additionally, to help retain nurses, nursing leadership created the Focus Council that offers a direct link to senior management. Every nursing unit is represented with two nurses that rotate every six months. Kemp says establishing a direct link to senior leadership has proven beneficial to nurses who represent all shifts and stages in their career.

“In the Focus Council, we work to resolve issues and improve the working environment for our nurses,” said Kemp. “Nurses participate in creating action plans, so they are involved in the process of creating change.”

Regional One Health is also committed to staff development. Courses are created to help nurses grow their careers so the hospital system can retain exceptional nurses rather than have nurses leave for a higher level position somewhere else.

To apply for the residency program, nurses can visit and search for “Registered Nurse Resident.”

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