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Developing Nurses for the Long Term

Nurse Residency Program Reduces Staff Turnover, Improving Quality Care

Helping to develop new nurse graduates through education scholarships, the Haden Institute for Nursing Excellence and Innovation is committed to supporting the very highest level of patient care. The Institute’s Nurse Residency Program, which began in spring 2016, aims to support professional practice and reduce the turnover rate among nurses early in their careers.

Nursing can be a difficult, stressful profession for those new to the field. Nationwide, voluntary turnover for nurses in their first two years is close to 30 percent—highly significant, given that the cost of losing a new nurse after two years is estimated to be approximately $88,000. At Sentara Martha Jefferson, the comparable voluntary turnover rate is 15 percent, which, while much lower than the national average, is still far too high.

To help reduce turnover, evidence from some of the nation’s top hospitals suggests that new nurses should be supported through a formal, 12-month residency program. The Sentara Martha Jefferson Nurse Residency Program offers nurses a nurturing environment in which to grow professionally through nurse-patient relationships, evidence-based practice and interdisciplinary collaboration. The program also provides participants with tools to grow into roles as future leaders.

Through the Nurse Residency Program, participants:

•     further develop effective decision-making skills related to clinical judgment and performance;

•     strengthen their commitment to the nursing profession;

•     evolve in the formation of individual professional development plans;

•     incorporate research-based best practices into the care they provide; and

•     improve critical-thinking skills and the ability to understand and use data on outcomes to promote patient safety.

Evidence shows that keeping a cohort of new nurses together through this process enhances individual success and job satisfaction.

“The Nurse Residency Program has given me a sense of camaraderie with other first-year nurses,” says Abigail Zuehlke, RN, a member of the hospital’s first Nurse Residency Program cohort. “I am by far the most junior nurse in my unit, so I greatly value opportunities to connect with other new nurses.”

Across more than 200 hospitals that have implemented similar programs, the average voluntary turnover rate among new nurses is less than 8 percent. If Sentara Martha Jefferson’s voluntary turnover rate were to be reduced from 15 percent to 8 percent, the hospital could potentially save more than $250,000 per cohort of new nursing graduates.

Supported through community philanthropy and the Haden Institute, the Nurse Residency Program is estimated to cost approximately $170,000 per year. However, with substantial value in decreased turnover, as well as stronger, more confident professional nurses emerging from residency, the program ultimately will benefit Sentara Martha Jefferson patients through higher-quality care.

If you would like to learn more about supporting the Nurse Residency Program or the Haden Institute, please contact Ray Mishler at the Martha Jefferson Hospital Foundation at (434) 654-8258 or rrmishle@sentara.com.

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