When you graduate from nursing school and make the leap into a role as a professional nurse, you’ll probably feel a mix of pride and trepidation. Almost like starting school all over again, you start to wonder if you can do the job and yet you’re excited to finally put all your knowledge to good use. That’s where a nurse residency program can make a huge difference.

One way many nurses find support is by actively seeking employment in organizations that offer a new graduate nurse residency program. These programs, which can last from several months to a full year, help bridge the gap between the rigors of student training with the rigors of real world nursing. Participants in a residency program have the benefit of supports geared toward the specific needs of new nurses. While you are gainfully employed, you’ll participate in programs, classes, meetings with peers and superiors, all while working through unit rotations in a collaborative environment.

What Can You Expect From a Nurse Residency Program?

Each program is a little different, but most organizations and hospitals want to give new nurse graduates exposure to all units and get them acclimated to the organization’s work culture. Through work on several units, you’ll be able to narrow down where your skills and interests might best serve your new employer and your own goals. Many times, nurses in residency programs will narrow down their choices for units and will be matched with one based on their preference and the recommendations of the program team.

So you might find that during the program, you have the opportunity to do rotations on several units over a period of weeks or even several months. By doing this you get to use some of your new skills, but with support. You’ll gain a sense of how units and departments work together (or maybe even where they are lacking communication) and adopt an understanding of the organization as a whole.

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New graduate programs also tend to offer helpful seminars, discussions, and meetings where you’ll learn from experts but also get to know other new grads in your situation. This kind of peer-to-peer support is invaluable when working through tough issues that new nurses face.

Why Are These Programs Worth Seeking Out?

New nurse grads find the programs prevent that feeling of being the green newbie on the floor. For nurses, this kind of program offers a supportive atmosphere to establish you in your first job. You’ll have access to people and programs designed specifically to help you through what is often a complicated transition. You’ll also have more opportunities to form mentoring relationships with nurses who have successfully navigated your very position and who have great advice and guidance to offer.

Before you begin working the majority of your hours in one area, you’ll get to do a lot in many areas – sort of like bringing the pieces of a puzzle together. Ideally, this leads to better cohesion among employees and better communication throughout teams and units.

How Do Hospitals Benefit?

New nurse graduate programs benefit hospitals and organizations because the organization gains a staff that has a broad-scope understanding of the organization as a whole and is trained in a specific way. With a cohesive staff, patient care is optimized. But it also helps the bottom line. Nurses who successfully begin their careers with this kind of program will, hopefully, stay longer with the organization. That makes the return on investment for these programs high.

How Do You Find a New Nurse Residency Program?

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When you are looking at potential employers, see which ones offer a nurse residency program. Generally, you have to meet a minimum educational requirement (like a BSN) and you have to formally apply for consideration. The application process includes gathering everything from your transcript and resume to letters of recommendation. And, naturally, you’ll need to let them know why you are an excellent candidate for the program with a letter of intent.

Consider seeking out a new nurse residency program to get your career off to a good start.

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil
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