When looking for new grad positions, it is very common to come across new grad residency programs of various types. These programs, designed to help make the transition easier for former students entering the workforce, are extremely competitive and diverse. Often giving you specialized support both clinically and in the classroom, you are able to develop more competence and confidence as you begin your career! This, in turn, often leads to more leadership opportunities as well as loyalty to the hospital.
The University HealthSystem Consortium (UHC) and American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) worked together to create a standard residency program adopted by many facilities. Those facilities using the UHC-AACN model will have the same criteria. Other facilities have chosen to create their own programs with similar criteria, but because the details can be different, it is important to know what to compare. Here are a number of things you’ll want to know while comparing programs and committing to one:
What is the length of the program?
Some programs require a one year commitment. Others require a two year commitment after a nine month program. Others are just a few months long.
Is there a time commitment required?
As mentioned above, programs can have varying time lengths. Sometimes, these are required commitments. Breaking from the program before the end of the commitment could result in a monetary fee as well as a burned bridge at the facility. When comparing programs, this would be something big to look at to ensure you’re willing to commit for the given length of time.
How often does the program run?
Hospitals run their nurse residency programs on a variety of different schedules. Some offer them once or twice a year, in alignment with May and December graduation dates, while others offer them all year long, with new trainings each month.
What does the hospital consider a new grad?
This can range from anyone 6-12 months after graduation to someone with no experience at all, not even in a non-hospital setting.
How is the program structured?
New grad residency programs typically combine a classroom component with a clinical component. They can also include specific mentorships as well as program-end projects.
How do I know what position to apply for?
Check with the facility in question. There are many hospitals that require you to apply to a new grad position opening, but some facilities will have you apply to each unit opening you’re interested in pursuing.
Is the residency general entry or unit specific?
This, too, can vary. Some programs hire you directly into the unit you will work on while others hire you into a new grad entry pool and then transition you into your assigned unit after a few months of training.
When are the application periods?
Depending on how often the programs run, applications may only be considered during a set period or they may be accepted continuously. The time period for set dates is still a large gap. For example, a July start residency program could accept applications as early as January or as late as June. Others may cut off the application process as early as March.
Is the program required to enter the hospital?
This depends on the facility and can even vary within health systems. Many programs make it a requirement to go through the program; others make it “optional”, meaning while the invite is there, the underlying tones are that you do not turn it down. There are still others that make it truly optional, just an additional training program to help in your development.
Is it paid?
Typically, yes. Because you most likely will be hired on as a full-time employee, you will get all the offerings of that position.
Does the program guarantee employment afterward?
Most programs are designed to begin you as a full-time staff RN, but there are some that are treated more like a post-graduate internship with possible employment options afterward.
In the end, whatever you choose, I hope you find one that works well for you!
Veronica Goodwin, also known as V, started with Aureus Medical Group as an Account Manager in September 2011. In May 2013, V stepped into the role of Nursing Student Outreach Coordinator. Prior to Aureus Medical, she worked as a Branch Manager with Enterprise Rent-A-Car. With a Bachelor of Arts degree in Graphic Design from Creighton University, V has a creative outlook on the world. In her downtime, V can be found with friends or family, traveling, photographing nature and gardening, reading, and learning about various wellness theories.
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