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New Graduate Nurse Residency Program

Frequently Asked Questions

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For more information, please contact:
Christa Steffens
Nurse Residency Program Coordinator
Phone: (319) 861-7746
FAX: (319) 861-7892
Email: csteffens@mercycare.org

What is a Nurse Residency Program?

The Nurse Residency Program at Mercy Medical Center provides a series of learning and work experiences designed to support nurses as they transition into professional nursing practice. The program is designed to close the experience gap between nursing school and clinical practice at the point of care through mentorship and ongoing education.

What are the criteria for admission?

Graduation from an accredited BSN or ADN program (within 12 months prior to applying); graduates must be willing to commit to the one-year necessary to complete the Residency Program.  All residents will be asked to sign a commitment statement upon acceptance into the program.

Admission also includes successful completion of the NCLEX exam. There is no separate application for admission to the residency program. Nurses will be admitted upon acceptance into the program.

What are the benefits of being in the nurse residency program versus a typical orientation program?

The typical orientation focuses on technical skills and department and hospital policies and procedures and varies in length from six weeks to 12 weeks.

The focus of the residency program is more broad and includes the traditional orientation period plus a focus on transition from the nursing student role to the professional nurse role.

The goal is to provide more support over a longer period of time to facilitate the successful transition for new graduates from advanced beginners to competent practitioners. The program includes professional development and opportunities to meet with leaders throughout the organization.

How is a nursing residency program orientation different from the regular orientation?

The residency program incorporates the existing hospital orientation and department orientation but adds content and activities that facilitate the acquisition of skills needed for the role of the professional nurse in addition to the technical and clinical skills, which is the focus of the existing orientation.

The residency program is spread over the first 12 months of employment to ensure stronger support for transition from the new student role to the practice role.

Will orientation occur on the unit I am hired onto or will it be more hospital-wide?

The residency program includes the traditional hospital orientation and department specific orientation, as well as the addition of role transition focus. Orientation will occur on the clinical area you are hired to work.

Will orientation last longer if I am in the nurse residency program?

The traditional orientation period is not changing substantially, either in terms of content or length.

What if I do not like the area that I am working in to start the residency?

During the residency year, if a new graduate determines that the assigned department is not the right practice environment for them, the residency coordinator will assist the new graduate in transferring to another department, as long as basic job performance is satisfactory, i.e. attendance, adherence to the Service Excellence Performance Standards.

Mercy is committed in providing the necessary support for new graduates to successfully transition from the nursing student role to the professional nurse role. We want nurses who experience high job satisfaction and are committed to a career in nursing at Mercy. That is Mercy's commitment to new graduates in the residency program.

What will my schedule be like during the residency?

During the orientation period to the assigned department, you will work the same schedule as your preceptor. Once orientation to the department is completed, you will move into the regularly scheduled pattern of shifts for your position. Time off to attend residency seminars and other residency commitments will be accommodated in your schedule.

Is it possible to take time off during the residency?

The regular paid leave and requests for time off policy applies during the 12-month residency program.

What if I am unable to start at the beginning of the residency program?

Exceptions to the admission requirements or admission process must be reviewed and approved by the Senior Vice President of Nursing, Patient Care Services & CNO.

What if I am not successful in passing the NCLEX the first time? Do I have to wait until the next session?

The expectation is that new graduates admitted to the residency program will already have their RN license.

If new graduates in this job code enter the residency without yet obtaining their RN licenses, a one-month waiver will be granted for those new graduates to obtain their license. If they do not pass the NCLEX exam, they will be moved into a Patient Care Tech role and moved out of the residency program. They can reapply to the residency program during the next application period if they have obtained their RN licenses.

Is there an option to not be a part of the residency program and still work at Mercy as a new graduate?

New graduates hired at Mercy can only enter through participation in the residency program.

If I currently work at Mercy as a CNA, do I still need to apply to be in the residency program?

All new graduates have to apply to residency program whether they already work or worked previously at Mercy.

While having previous or current work experience at Mercy does not guarantee admission to the residency program, if all aspects of the application and interview process are in order, preference will be given to those new graduates already working at Mercy or who have worked at Mercy and have satisfactory work records.

What if I want to take some time off after graduation? Can I wait to enter the residency program?

It is expected that all new graduates will begin the residency program on the first day of each residency cycle.

Exceptions to admission requirements or the admission process must be reviewed and approved by the Senior Vice President of Nursing, Patient Care Services & CNO.

What will I be paid to be in the residency program and as a new nurse?

All hours worked during the residency program are paid at the current staff RN rate.

There is no change in how the beginning salary for new graduates is determined. And, new graduates are eligible for any additional premium pay, i.e. off shift, extra shift, transfer, etc.

There is no additional pay adjustment upon completion of the residency program.

Are there outside readings related to being in the program?

Resources are provided to assist with the acquisition of additional knowledge in each of the seminar areas. Any professional role development material given as part of the residency program is expected to be completed on work time within normal hours of work.

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New Graduate Nurse Residency Program

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