Exploring new nurses' perceptions of a nurse residency program

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Health care facilities across the United States have implemented innovative approaches such as nurse residency programs to facilitate a successful transition to practice for new nurses. Many nurse residency programs evaluate their effectiveness by assessing critical thinking abilities, retention, return on investment, and job satisfaction. Evaluations are conducted using surveys and focus groups. However, there is a void in the literature that examines the effectiveness of a new nurse residency program from the participants’ perspective; particularly asking the resident how the nurse residency program has advanced them to become a more competent professional. The theoretical model framing this investigation is Patricia Benner’s novice to expert theory. The purpose of this qualitative case study is to understand participants’ perceptions of a nurse residency program, specifically looking at how the program transitioned them from advanced beginner to competent nurse professional. The study sample included eight participants employed in a health care facility located in the southeastern United States. Open-ended research questions were designed to elicit the new nurses’ perceptions of the effectiveness of a nurse residency program. Data collection was conducted using interviews and audio recordings. Emerging themes indicated that pre-experiences and expectations, leadership and professional development, stress and coping, supportive cohort, program improvements, and reflection on confidence and competency were fundamental elements for an effective nurse residency program. One recommendation from this study was for pre-residency assessment tools to be given to residents for customization to better facilitate the transition of new nurses to a competent professional.

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