Nurse residency programs require strong leadership

Nurse Leader Insider, September 7, 2017

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Residency programs can flounder without the proper support from a nurse leader that provides preceptors with organizational support in a difficult role.

In 2014, the New Jersey Action Coalition (NJAC) began a statewide nurse residency program to improve nurse retention rates across the state. The program paired new nurses with experienced preceptors, providing both with in-person and interactive education. The program was largely a success, with an 86% retention rate achieved across the state, but facilities quickly learned that a nurse leader that championed the program in clinical settings was the linchpin to success.

Nurse leaders representing the residency program were able to demonstrate the benefits of the program to the administration and staff, advocating for the program and defending their budget. Time is a prized commodity on the floor, but leadership made sure that nurses and preceptors were given the time they needed to attend class and meet regularly. Active leaders were also able to hear ideas and take suggestions to improve the program, implementing them on the fly.

The need for leadership was most clearly felt when a nurse leader resigned. Programs that lost their main advocate saw a distinct deterioration; facilities experienced reduced attendance and found no organizational support for resident activities. New nurses expressed the need for strong hands-on leadership, and felt in when support wasn’t there.

For more information about building a residency program, check out the Strategies for Nurse Leaders Reading Room:
Nurse residency programs pay for themselves
The changing face of recruitment and retention
The gift of a nursing residency

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