OMH initiates Nurse Residency Program

This summer four nursing graduates entered a new 13-week Nurse Residency Program at Onslow Memorial Hospital (OMH). In October, the nurses transitioned into their permanent positions and began a further 8- to 12-week orientation specific to their chosen departments.

“This was our test group, and already we have learned so much from their experiences,” says the program administrator and hospital’s Director of Education Tracy Sobiesienski, MSN/MHA, RN.
The new graduates went through a rigorous selection process which included submission of a professional nursing goal statement and three separate interviews (first with a nurse manager, then with a peer team, and finally with Sobiesienski).

“We wanted ‘the best of the best’– nurses who were willing to help us develop this program for future nurses,” Sobiesienski explains.
During the 13 weeks of the residency, new graduates Jennifer Lampman, Taylor Edwards, Rebecca Guy, and Madeline Jones rotated through Maternal Child Services, Telemetry, IMCU, ICU and the Emergency Department. The rotations were designed to teach the new nurses specialized skills and introduce them to the workflows of each department. Working under preceptors, the nurse graduates received hands-on training. “They were not simply ‘shadowing’ – they were on their feet learning and doing everything.”

The thinking behind the program is simple: give new graduates a chance to immerse themselves in different aspects of nursing, and at the conclusion of the program, allow them to choose which area they want to work in – a strategy that results in better job retention for hospitals and greater job satisfaction for nurses, according to the Institute of Medicine (IOM). A distinct benefit that has emerged from the OMH program is the nurse residents all report they are completely comfortable with being asked to ‘float’ to other departments when the need arises. 

Sobiesienski explains why this is so important to a hospital:

“Typically, departments will ‘float’ their nurses to another department that has a higher patient census, or is short-staffed that day. In the past, this was not something nurses liked to do! – it’s just human nature to be uncomfortable in unfamiliar situations. Our Nurse Residency Program is changing that.
“At the conclusion of the program, I asked each of the four nurses how they would feel about being floated to the Emergency Department, which is not an area any of them is choosing full-time, and they all said they’d welcome the chance. That’s a direct result of knowing the people, knowing the workflow, and knowing where things are – because of this program, there are no departments unfamiliar to them.”
Although a nurse residency program comes with a higher upfront investment and requires more time on the part of staff, the end result is a win-win. “This program couldn’t happen without our entire staff embracing it,” Sobiesienski says, “but the effort is well worth it. We are encouraging teamwork and collaboration, and that benefits not only our staff, but especially our patients.”

OMH nurse residents also have an “immersion experience” of 2-3 hours each in Pharmacy, Respiratory, Lab, Radiology, Infection Prevention, and Dietary. “We wanted them to walk in the other person’s shoes, understand why they need things the way they do, and build those important professional relationships. This helps them think interdepartmentally,” Sobiesienski says.

Another important aspect of the OMH program is its continued mentorship. Sobiesienski will follow each of the nurse residents for the critical first year, giving them “someone outside of their department to discuss any challenges, and to help them find the support they need.”

Beginning this December, all new nursing graduates hired for positions at OMH will start as residents in the program.