On January 28th, OSF Saint Francis Medical Center celebrated 48 nurses, the first graduating class from the newly established Nursing Residency Program. The second group of nurse residents will graduate in a class of 117 in August 2010.

Saint Francis Medical Center is the only hospital in the Peoria area to offer the UHC/AACN Nurse Residency Program. When research from Casey, Fink, Krugman and Propst in 2004 indicated that 35 to 61 percent of all recent nursing graduates entering acute hospital settings resign from their positions within one year, nursing administration at OSF realized an opportunity to provide additional training and emotional support to new RNs transitioning to the professional workforce.

This 12-month residency program is open to recent nursing graduates who have not practiced as licensed RNs. Candidates for the program must have graduated from an accredited BSN or ADN program and be employed by OSF Saint Francis Medical Center during their residency.

Nurse Residents enjoy the benefits of monthly meetings that feature experts speaking on topics directly pertaining to their nursing experiences. Some of the recent lecture topics have included professionalism in nursing by Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor Laura Sollenberger; sleep patterns and working night shifts by Dr. Sara Zallek; and conflict and difficult conversations by Beverly Reynolds, RN and PhD, and Stephen Mattern, associate professor at the College of Nursing.

Participation in topic discussion typically takes place during lectures. This provides an opportunity for residents to gain clarification and express their own ideas. Confidence to ask questions is encouraged through the knowledge that the classroom is filled with nurse residents all fresh to the profession.

The sessions conclude with time devoted to mentoring, support and discussion. The residents are divided into small groups with like specialties. Here, they are allowed to give voice to their frustrations, problem-solve, celebrate victories and gain empathy. Bringing together people in the youth of their profession encourages camaraderie and gives the individuals a realistic perspective that what they are experiencing is normal. Ultimately, this instills confidence and creates a smoother transition from college life to the professional world.

Lorie Helle, RN, BSN Retention Specialist, comments on the program objectives: “Our goal is to provide additional training and support to the most vulnerable people within the organization—those newly entering the profession. By giving all new nurses greater job satisfaction, bolstering their confidence, and engaging them with their peers, we believe that the entire organization will benefit through long-term employees who are happy to be providing the greatest care and love to our patients.” iBi