Recent press has focused on the complicated nature of the nursing shortage in the United States, with a lack of RNs with the nursing experience that employers are seeking, especially for specialty inpatient units, driving challenges for recruitment and employment. Two recent articles about this problem- one in Stateline and one in McKnight’s- highlighted NYACH’s RN Transition to Practice (TTP) program as an example of an initiative developed to address this experience gap between education and practice.
The RN TTP program, developed in partnership with the Greater New York Hospital Association and Lehman College, aimed to address two key problems in the field of nursing: newly licensed RNs without nursing work experience oftentimes have difficulty securing their first jobs, and that hospitals are in need of nurses with clinical experience, particularly for specialty units.
Program participants were licensed nurses who had been actively seeking and unable to find employment as an RN. The students received a total of 30 hours per week of didactic and clinical training throughout the six month program. Eighty percent of that time was spent doing hands-on clinical nursing at a partner hospital under the supervision of a trained preceptor nurse and twenty percent of the time participants received classroom and simulation training at Lehman College. The curriculum for the didactic portion of the program was developed with employer input and focuses on critical thinking, communication, leadership, and research skills, while the clinical experience enhances students’ competencies and confidence in a hospital setting.
All three cohorts of this pilot initiative showed promising outcomes. All nurses were either underemployed or unemployed at the start of this program; currently 83% of the 58 students enrolled in the three cohorts are employed as full-time RNs with an average wage of approximately $72,000 per year. The majority of these nurses were hired at their precepting program partner hospital. Retention was also very strong for these program graduates. Six months following their hire, 92% of the nurse from cohorts 1 and 2 were still working at their preceptor hospital site. Ninety-one percent (91%) of cohort 1 students hired at their partner hospital were still employed and happy in their jobs two years after hire.
Overall, the majority of the students credit this program for their current employment, including those who are now working in specialty units such as Neonatal Intensive Care. All of the nurses from the most recent cohort reported that the program made them both more confident and competent nurses, citing various hard and soft skills that were sharpened during their time with the program including patient advocacy, critical thinking, and taking thorough case notes. One program graduate stated, “I hope [the program] keeps going because it really does help. It should be a widespread thing in New York, not just this one [program]. It’s something that bridges the gap between school and real-world situations. It was a great bridge.”