Implementing Nurse Residency Programs in Nevada

September 03, 2015 / admin / 0 Comments /

Submitted by:  Susan Adamek PhD(c), RN, NEA-BC, FACHE, Nevada Action Coalition

In 2010 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) published its most widely read report to date, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health (Institute of Medicine [IOM], 2010). The IOM recommended that nurse residency programs be implemented for nurses who are new to the profession, to advanced practice roles, and to new roles within nursing. These structured programs have been shown to enhance safety and quality of care as well as reducing employee turnover.

However, there is widespread confusion about definitions and terminology used to describe residency programs. They vary in structure, in length, and in content. At a national level there are several major initiatives in place. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing, in collaboration with more than 35 nursing organizations from both urban and rural areas, is considering a regulatory model. Results of this study are expected to be released later this year. The University Health System Consortium has also collaborated with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) to develop a comprehensive nurse residency program which is one year in length and is designed to be adaptable across a variety of settings. AACN has created accreditation standards for residency programs.

The Nevada Action Coalition has identified the recommendation to implement nurse residency programs as one of its primary areas of focus. A Transition into Practice committee has been established using members from the Nevada Hospital Association (NHA), the Nevada Alliance for Nursing Excellence (NANE) and the Education Subcommittee of the Health Care Sector Council. This committee is gathering information about the current state of nurse residency programs in Nevada, with a goal of recommending a “best practice” standard residency curriculum. Both nursing and non-nursing champions have been identified to lead this effort.

In Nevada, acute care hospitals have been found to offer a wide range of programs for new nurses. Some of the rural hospitals are only able to offer two weeks with a preceptor before the new graduate must assume a patient assignment.

At the other end of the spectrum, some facilities offer structured on-boarding programs with didactic content, precepted clinical experiences, simulation lab practice, and support groups that last for twelve months. The Nevada Action Coalition is still gathering information about nurse residency programs in our state, but it is already apparent that some of our smaller hospitals could benefit from additional resources to support their new graduate nurses during their first year of practice.

Another initiative planned by the Nevada Action Coalition is to ask the new graduates themselves about their needs and experiences. This survey will help us determine the efficacy of the current transition into practice programs in the state, and guide recommendations for best practices in the future.

For the past several years the Nevada Hospital Association Health Care Workforce Development has offered financial assistance to hospitals that hire newly licensed registered nurses. Through this program, a percentage of the new nurse’s salary for a designated period of time is reimbursed to the hospital. Simulation lab experiences have been funded. New nurses with financial need may also qualify for assistance with some of their individual expenses through this program, including uniforms, medical equipment, books, transportation, and child care. Although the funds allocated to this program are limited, they have allowed hospitals to afford bringing more new nurses into the workforce.

Another creative approach to transitioning newly licensed nurses into practice is being developed by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Continuing Education Department. This non-hospital sponsored nurse residency program is being designed to assist new nurses who have been unable to find jobs in nursing. The program will include precepted clinical experiences, mentoring, leadership coaching, online learning activities, simulation experiences, technical skills practice, and assistance with interviewing techniques and resume development. Funding for this program will be provided by Workforce Connections.

The Nevada Action Coalition welcomes participation in our efforts to assure that effective nurse residency programs are available to new nurses in our state. If you are interested in assisting our Transition into Practice Committee, please contact Linda Paulic at (702) 522-7026 or

Institute of Medicine. (2010). The future of nursing:
Leading change, advancing health. Washington D.C.:
The National Academics Press.