Open house spotlights student-to-nurse transition

Participants in the Carle Nurse Residency Program benefit from the close relationships they forge with peers and mentors.

Many new nurses find it challenging to transition from being in school to working professionally at a hospital. Carle’s Nurse Residency Program is designed to ease the strain during this process.

For new graduates coming out of nursing school, those with less than a year of acute nursing experience and international nurses who have never practiced in the U.S., joining the program is an ideal step to take to achieve their goals.

Recent graduates, and soon-to-be graduates, are encouraged to learn firsthand what it’s like to be one of Carle’s nurse residents by attending the Carle Nurse Residency Program open house on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 3:30-5:30 p.m. at The Forum. The event features booths, short presentations, tours, food and prizes—and, perhaps most importantly, the opportunity to meet current Carle Nurse Residency Program (CNRP) students and grads. Register here.

CNRP focuses on acclimating new nurses to the hospital environment and making their transition as smooth as possible. One key to success for those in CNRP is the support system of peers and mentors. The bond and trust between residents helps ensure their individual success in the hospital and with patients.

“The amount of camaraderie that they have amongst each other is important,” said Amber Nibling, MSN, RN-BC, manager of Transition to Practice Programs. “Hired as cohorts, they can always reach out to each other for help. There’s even a Facebook page dedicated to sharing their stories or questions.”

Jessica Vire, BSN, CMSRN, a new clinical coach, was once a new graduate who found her way to CNRP. She graduated in the May of 2013 and started working night shifts at Tower 6 during her residency.

She credits her successful completion of the program to her peers and mentors. Now, she finds herself in the role of mentor.

“It really helped to keep me going.” Vire said. “I made it through and started training new graduates. I love watching them grow and molding the people who will be changing Carle for the better.”

Vire said she and the other members of the clinical coaching team focus on guiding new nurses to become the best they can be. Not only do they offer classroom experience, they also spend time with the nurses at the bedside, helping them improve in practice.

Clinical coach Chelsea Klekamp, BSN, CMSRN, said Carle is an ideal place to participate in a nurse residency program.

“We have some of the most complex and acute patient care in our area,” Klekamp said. “Not only that, but we also provide the support to help the participants get to the point where they can safely and competently care for the diverse patient population.”

Members gain professional experience and life lessons as their floor, management team and coaches are held accountable for their actions. They are expected to absorb every experience that is afforded to them to grow and learn.

The program runs continuously through the year as classes are on a rolling curriculum. Clinical experiences, past work history, interviews and grade point averages are considered when hiring nurses into the program.

Since the program was established in July of 2011, the number of nurses hired through CRNP continues to increase each year. In 2016, CNRP hired nearly 100 nurses into the organization. Last year, the residency program also expanded into new areas of practice, including Women’s and Children’s Services as well as Home Health, Hospice and the Operating Room.

Future plans for the program include becoming accredited through the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a Practice Transition accreditation program. And, of course, to continue to hire quality nurses into the organization and carry on the recruitment and retention efforts.  

“It is an honor and privilege to aid in the growth and development of these new nurses,” Nibling said. “Watching them grow more confident and become preceptors and UNLs down the road is very fulfilling. Our goal is to make a difference in their lives and in the lives of the patients our organization serves through CNRP.