55% of respondents say their hospital lacks strong nurse residency program

Fifty-five percent of respondents in a recent poll said their hospital does not currently have a strong nurse residency program in place, despite nurse leaders citing such programs as a key retention tool, particularly among new nurses. 

In a Becker's LinkedIn poll, 36% of respondents indicated their hospital or health system does have a thriving nurse residency program. Eight percent of respondents said their organization doesn't have one in full gear yet, but indicated plans are in place to stand one up. More than half or respondents said their organization does not have one. About 450 people responded to the poll, which was published Nov. 16 and ran for five days, though Becker's does not have insights on respondents' organizations or roles.

A growing number of hospitals and health systems have invested in comprehensive nurse residency programs over the past few years, and many have reported success in curbing turnover among first-year nurses, which remains at a national average of about 32%. The effects of the pandemic brought renewed attention to the importance of a new nurse's first year transitioning from student to expert, as many nursing students did not get the full in-person clinical time. 

Nurse residency programs aim to support new nurses' transition from novice to expert, and ultimately save health systems money by reducing costs associated with turnover and hiring. While they can be structured differently, most residencies where hospitals have reported success include a mentorship component in addition to clinical integration and are at least one year long. 

In 2019, New York City rolled out a residency program at 28 hospitals, 18 of which are part of NYC Health + Hospitals, the city's public health system. Since its inception, nurse retention at participating facilities increased to 96%.

Earlier this year, leaders at Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Novant Health told Becker's the system has seen its nurse residency program "pay dividends." New nursing school graduates spend a year in the program and rotate across as many as four departments. Novant Health has seen a retention rate of more than 85% among new nurses after one year of practice, which it credits in large part to the residency program. 

Chicago-based CommonSpirit Health also launched a systemside, one-year residency program this year, which includes clinical integration, in addition to a didactic portion that covers topics such as well-being and how to submit ideas for workflow improvements. Through the program — which was developed in partnership with OpusVi and is available in 21 states — the health system aims to boost RN retention by at least 20%. 

"Most residency programs are just teaching you how to take care of multiple patients and work on the unit and get the jobs done. This one is, I think, a bit more holistic," Kathy Sanford, DBA, RN, chief nursing officer at CommonSpirit, previously told Becker's

Strong nurse residency programs should be evidence-based and accredited, chief nursing officers told attendees during a panel session Nov. 15 at Becker's annual CEO/CFO Roundtable, adding that simply labeling a standard orientation as a residency will not lead to success. 

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