The transition from nursing student to professional practice can be daunting without the right support.
At the Brigham, new nurses participate in the year-long Nora McDonough Nurse Residency Program, which provides a comprehensive orientation to help nurses develop their skills and grow in their practice with a supportive cohort.
“The program provided me with a safe space off the unit where I could discuss the spectrum of emotions that arise as one practices as a newly licensed nurse in the age of the COVID pandemic, while celebrating successes and debriefing downfalls in a nonjudgmental, constructive manner,” said Jessica Andrews, BSN, RN, of Medical Cardiology, Shapiro 9 West/10 East West.
This week, the program achieved accreditation as a Practice Transition Program by the American Nurses Credentialing Center for demonstrating excellence in transitioning nurses to new practice settings. The Brigham joins 220 programs nationally and internationally that have received accreditation.
“This accreditation sets the global standard for residency programs and confirms that our program is more than a basic orientation,” said Mary Anne Murphy Kenyon, DNP, MPH, MS, RN, ONC, professional development manager and director of the residency program. “Accreditation confirms that our nurse residency program supports newly licensed nurses in transitioning from students to professional nurses and ensures that they can practice confidently and safely in our high acuity environment.”
Such support is especially critical amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Providing our newly licensed nurses with support, mentorship and education is essential to their success, especially during this challenging time in health care,” said Maddy Pearson, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, senior vice president of Patient Care Services and chief nursing officer. “I am deeply thankful to our program leaders, preceptors and everyone who plays a role in supporting and nurturing our new nurses in their professional growth.”
Embedded Support Structure
The robust residency program focuses on leadership, patient outcomes and professional roles, with a combination of classroom learning, clinical experience, simulation, peer support and mentorship.
“I really enjoyed the embedded support structure that the program provides, both in terms of peer-to-peer support and formal mentorship from professional development managers, clinical nurse educators and others who served as facilitators during the seminars,” said Andrews, who completed the program in September 2021. “Being able to discuss difficult scenarios from past shifts and have both peers and mentors share those same stories made me feel less isolated in my lived experiences and less anxious about being a new nurse.”
Colinda Cole-French, BSN, RN, of Braunwald Tower 14AB, graduated from the program in the spring of 2021.
“It was great. We had small groups for clinical reflections where we could talk with peers about our experiences,” she said. “That was really helpful as a new nurse and during COVID to have space to process what was happening.”
Olivia Bane, BSN, RN, of Braunwald Tower 10BCD, will complete the program this month. She noted the program’s focus on evidence-based practice and the importance of the group discussions.
“The program reinforced evidence-based practice that is necessary for success,” she said. “I also find it helpful to talk frankly with my peers in group discussions about the reality and hardships that come with being a new nurse, as well as being a nurse in general. It helped me to understand that I was not alone in my worries and experiences.”
The program covers topics that are not always touched upon during nursing school, added Andrews.
“I appreciated that the program introduced topics including ethical dilemmas at the bedside, conflict resolution and caring for dying patients,” she said. “The program truly seeks to address knowledge gaps of any kind, from all different aspects of nursing practice.”
An Organizational “Labor of Love”
The path to accreditation included submitting a formal application and participating in a virtual site visit in December, in which nursing leaders and nurse residents shared how the program supports education and quality outcomes.
As part of the process, nurse residents completed a survey about the program’s strengths and opportunities.
“I feel like I am a stronger nurse because of the training and strong support that I am receiving,” shared one nurse.
Another wrote, “I leave each session feeling more confident in myself and my practice than I did before.”
On March 1, nursing leaders and clinical nurses involved in the accreditation process gathered for a virtual meeting with the ANCC to learn whether the program had met the criteria for accreditation. As the ANCC shared, “You proved to our commission that you value your nurse residents, and you want to provide them with the time and support that they need.”
Murphy Kenyon thanked everyone who played a role in the process. “So many people across our organization supported this journey,” said Murphy Kenyon. “It was truly an organizational labor of love.”
For more information on the Nora McDonough Nurse Residency program, visit our website.