Hospitals tailor nurse residencies to meet staffing needs

There's a twist in the relatively new area of hospital residencies for registered nurses: Training new nursing school graduates in specialty nursing fields.

One such program can be found at Brandon Regional Hospital in Florida, Hospitals & Health Networks reported. The hospital's nurse residency program provides 16 weeks of intensive training in critical care and other specialty areas.

Christine Taramasco, R.N., chief nursing officer at the hospital, told the publication that the program helps Brandon Regional compete for nurses against places like outpatient centers that don't have night or weekend shifts. The program also reduced contract labor costs by 47 percent, or more than $1 million, in a year, according to H&HN.

Nurses in the residency program agree to work for the hospital for two years, according to the article. Parallon, a unit of its parent company HCA, pays the nurses during the residency. The hospital then pays Parallon a placement fee for each nurse who completes the program, according to the article. One-year retention for the first residency group is 90 percent.

While the Brandon program focuses on new graduates, the nurse residency program at Erlanger Health System in Chattanooga, Tennessee, brings in student nurses from various area nursing schools, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported. The student nurses receive classroom and clinical training during various rotations over their 12- to 13-week residency, according to the paper. At the end of their residency, nurses pick the three top areas where they'd like to work, and hospital officials work to match them in one of those areas.

Nurse residency programs are one way new nurses can compete with more experienced nurses for coveted jobs in acute care hospitals, as FierceHealthcare previously reported. Nurse residency programs give them a foot in the door, but the programs are highly competitive.

Residency programs are rising as hospitals increasingly try to hire nurses with bachelor's degrees. The Institute of Medicine in 2010 called for 80 percent of the nursing workforce to have four-year degrees by 2020.

To learn more:
- read the H&HN article
- here's the Times Free Press article