What is a nurse residency program, and will it pay for college?

Recently, hospitals across the country have started Registered Nurse Residency Programs for new grads. These programs aim to help new nurses transition from student to nurse. While this isn’t a new concept, it is a more formalized as a way to introduce new nurses to the demands of the job in a structured and educational manner. 

What is a nurse residency program?

Nurse residency programs focus on strengthening decision-making skills in high-pressure situations, developing clinical leadership, and incorporating nurse education into real-life practice. 

Since 25% of new nurse graduates leave the profession after the first year, the nurse residency program is meant to be a support system to help them through that stressful time. Successful nurse residency programs do this by reducing the clinical workload, incorporating classroom content, and focusing on critical thinking skills in regards to patient outcomes and professional roles. 

Like in the classroom, nurses move through their residency program in stages with the hopes that by the time they complete it, they emerge a better critical thinker and more prepared for their specialty. 

Mentorship is also a significant aspect of nurse residency programs. Seasoned nurses work with the new grads to support them through the process. They answer questions, provide guidance, and generally create a positive experience.

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How do I get placed in a nurse residency program?

Hospitals that offer the nurse residency program for new graduates have it listed on their career page usually. If ‘you’re interested, you should apply directly through the hospital’s website.

If you are selected to go through to the interview process, you will need to decide which specialty you are interested in pursuing. For instance, you can choose from options like ED, med-surg, labor and delivery, and ICU. If you are hired, you will be expected to participate in the specialty program you have chosen. 

The point in coming in with a nursing specialty is that the residency program is explicitly designed to give you real-life experience within that specialty. ‘You’ll be participating in training and class to learn specialized information geared towards the specific position you were hired for. 

The AACN Nurse Residency Program

Another excellent resource for finding nurse residency programs is through the American Associate of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). The AACN connects members with opportunities to learn, improve, and build upon their nursing education. Their Nurse Residency Program (NRP) was created to help entry-level nurses transition into practice. It uses an evidence-based curriculum that incorporates leadership, patient outcomes, and professional development.

The AACN NRP program empowers nurses and increases retention while reducing turnover costs and improving patient safety. Their website provides a list of institutions that follow the AACN program. You can find that list at the AACN website here.

Does a nursing residency program pay for nursing school?

Unfortunately, nurse residency programs do not pay for your tuition or loans — however, you do get paid as a resident nurse. 

Nursing residency lasts about 6 months to a year, and while nursing residents do get paid less than an RN, they do get paid. Some institutions offer the program for a set time and choose nurses from the graduation pool to serve as full-time nurses at the hospital. 

Depending on which institution you end up at, there is a chance that they will have a program in place to help pay off your student loans or eradicate your debt entirely. 

Nurse residency programs are essential to your development as a nurse and the ability to transition from student to RN. While these programs do not currently offer any loan repayment or tuition reimbursement, it is a great way to get your foot in the door at a hospital or institution that offers those options for full-time employees.