Every new nurse feels some sort of terror of being responsible for the lives of their patients. Its natural, its a good thing, and eventually it fades away. During this time where you are a new grad transitioning from a student role to the role of a primary caregiver, a Nurse Residency shows its true impact. There are so few programs out there besides Nurse Residencies that give this sort of support to a new grad…. and honestly I couldn’t imagine starting my career any other way.
So what exactly is a nurse residency? I asked the same question when I had my interview for the job. A nurse residency is a period of usually 6 months to 1 year that new graduate nurses get specialized training in the unit they will be working in. I am an ER nurse, so all of my training through the residency has been trauma and emergency focused. I have friends in other residency classes at the same hospital where I work, and their training has been specialized to the ICU setting where they work. It kind of feels like you are still in class after graduation: assignments, online work, a project, and so many certifications. This training has all proved to be crucial in my development into a competent nurse and I really feel like this program has started my career on the right track.
Also, as a new grad it can be incredibly alienating. If you are starting on a unit as the only new hire, the overwhelmingness of being a new nurse would be difficult to handle alone. It is so beneficial to have a group of people who are going through the same thing as you, in the same hospital, that you meet with monthly to discuss what is going well and what isn’t. I have learned to rely on these people during my shifts, and especially on those days where I feel like I just can’t do it. Just like in nursing school, friends are essential.
Another huge perk of Nurse Residency is all of the certifications, education, and courses you could dream of. ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) was the first certification I got within a month of beginning my work at the hospital. It is critical to have this foundation to manage cardiac arrests and other heart dysrhythmias in the Emergency Department. The next certification I received was TNCC (Trauma Nursing Core Course). This was honestly career changing. Having the chance to take this course early on in my career placed me on a trajectory for success that would have taken YEARS to build otherwise. This course helps structure your approach to every patient, every time. Even though it is geared for trauma, I would suggest this class to anyone and everyone who could take it. After the two adult based classes I took both ENPC (Emergency Nurse Pediatric Course) and PALS (Pediatric Advanced Life Support). Although I am not a pediatric nurse and have no desire to be, being cross trained in these areas makes me more marketable and more importantly, makes me more capable of caring for children who need it.
All in all, Residency has been an overwhelming experience that I wouldn’t trade for the world. I believe whole heartedly that this experience has shaped my career from the beginning and I will be forever grateful for this experience. If you are in nursing school, a new grad, or just interested in hearing more of my experience, e-mail me or leave a comment. I’d love to chat.