From the desk of Adrianne E. Avillion, DEd, RN

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, March 9, 2012

Editor's note: This feature is written by nursing professional development expert Adrianne E. Avillion, DEd, RN. Each week, Adrianne writes about an important issue in the area of professional development or answers reader questions. If you have a question for Adrianne, e-mail her at

Resources for initiating a nurse residency programs

Thanks to reports such as the Institute of Medicine's The Future of Nursing it is increasingly evident that healthcare resources must be more fully allotted to recruit, retain, and educate members of the nursing profession. The implementation of nurse residency programs is one way to facilitate the orientation of new nurses and enhance their successful assimilation into an organization. 

There are no regulatory guidelines for nurse residency programs, so you really have the opportunity to design one that works for the nursing staff and your organization. A good way to begin working on the development or revision or a residency program is to look at what is already available. The University of Pennsylvania Career Services has compiled a list of hospitals offering structured BSN nurse residency programs.
Communicate with other organizations regarding their nurse residency programs. Your best resources are probably going to be those who have already been through the trial and error process of developing a nurse residency program.

In discussions with other nursing professional development (NPD) specialists, I have found that some of the biggest challenges occur as a result of failure to consider and address the following questions. Consider these questions carefully and base your program development on your responses.

  • Is administration willing to commit the resources, both human and monetary, necessary for residency program development and maintenance?
  • What is nursing leadership's response to the concept of a nurse residency program?
  • Do staff nurses support the concept of a nurse residency program?
  • Who has control over the budget of the nurse residency program? Whoever controls the money has, ultimately, the authority as well!
  • Who makes the decisions as to what candidates will be accepted into the nurse residency program?
  • How have you differentiated between orientation and a nurse residency program?
  • What are the objectives of the nurse residency program?
  • Who are the people responsible for implementing the program? What education has been provided to those responsible for working with the nurse residents?
  • How will the nurse residency program be evaluated?

Remember that the ultimate goal of a nurse residency program is to facilitate successful transition of nurses from the role of student to professional nurse. Ultimately, this type of transition should increase retention, job satisfaction, and patient care delivery.

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