Nurses, hospitals win with transition programs

CLICK to Email
CLICK for Print Version

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media, June 5, 2012

It's a no-brainer, really. The more education nurses receive, the better they'll be at their jobs. One study even showed that certain nursing certifications are associated with lower rates of hospital-acquired infections.

And earning advanced degrees, such as a Doctor of Nursing Practice, can help advanced practice nurses gain the autonomy that many of them so desire.

As the competition for jobs gets stiffer, additional education can also give newly minted RNs an edge in the job hunt by helping them make the leap from the classroom to the bedside.

A study led by the University of San Francisco found that nurses who participate in transition-to-practice programs increase their employment opportunities, confidence, and competence of new nurse graduates.

Transition-to-practice programs "provide transitional support from classroom to clinical practice and are a necessary educational component in preparing nurses for practice," said Deloras Jones, California Institute for Nursing & Health Care, in a statement. In other words, they help nurses apply what they learned at school to real-world patient care.

Transition-to-practice programs are touted in the Institute of Medicine's report, The Future of Nursing, which says "high turnover rates among new nurses underscore the importance of transition-to-practice residency programs, which help man­age the transition from nursing school to practice and help new graduates further develop the skills needed to deliver safe, quality care." The report also says that such programs "need to be developed and evaluated in community settings."

That's exactly what the CINHC has done. In 2011, it surveyed 1,492 RNs who had been licensed between April 2010 and August 2011 and found that 43% of them had not found jobs. In an effort to bridge this gap, CINHC worked with nursing schools, hospitals, and community-based agencies to develop the 12- to 18-week pilot RN Transition Programs.

The programs were established at schools of nursing at Samuel Merritt University; California State University, East Bay; University of San Francisco; and a collaboration of South Bay schools, including San Jose State University, Samuel Merritt University's San Mateo Learning Center and San Jose/Evergreen Community College District through the Workforce Institute. They were open to new RNs who weren't yet employed.

The 330 new nurse graduates who enrolled in the pilot programs participated in ongoing assessments of their critical thinking and competency skills; individualized learning plans with assigned faculty; precepted clinical hours; and classroom education. They focused on building generalist, acute care, and non-acute care skills. The programs were also flexible, with each participating site having a hand in its program's design.

So far, the programs have been a resounding success for the nurses involved. The evaluation of the pilot program found that as of May 2012, 79% of the nurses who participated in the four programs have secured jobs.

The four pilot RN Transition Programs were funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation; Kaiser Permanente Fund for Health Education at the East Bay Community Foundation; and the Alameda County Workforce Investment Board. Now, CINHC is seeking funding to conduct evaluations of all of California's RN transition programs.

Like I said, implementing these programs seems like a no-brainer. Nurses get help finding jobs as well as additional education. And hospitals get skilled, dedicated RNs who will help advance patient care. It's a win-win.

Source: HealthLeaders Media