Nurse Residency Programs and the Benefits for New Graduate Nurses
Allison L. Walsh
The initial transition into independent practice as a nurse is overwhelming for many new graduates. Although completion of their degree and the certification examination ensures the nurse has built up an educational foundation, the transition in the clinical setting is crucial for new nurses to succeed in their specific clinical context. In addition, new nurses need to master their communication skills to collaborate effectively with all members of the healthcare team, particularly patients and their families. When this transition is met with disorganization, a chaotic progression into independent practice, or challenging learning environments, it is difficult for the new graduate to grow to become a confident, independent nurse and to provide the best care for patients. The implementation of nurse residency programs, particularly in pediatric hospitals, attempts to combat this difficult transition to practice through establishing a more thorough, standardized orientation. The literature demonstrates that improving the transitional experiences of new graduate nurses with a focus on communication, organization, critical thinking, and stress management has, in turn, improved job satisfaction and nursing retention. This article reviews the current structures of nurse residency programs available for new graduates and the benefit each program provides in allowing the growth in these four foundational skills: communication, critical thinking, organization, and stress management. New graduate nurses should be aware of and understand their options as they look toward deciding on their first career path after graduation to promote success during their initial transition and beyond.