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Nurse residency program launches careers

The state’s first nurse residency program, co-led by the University of Rhode Island, gives unemployed and underemployed licensed registered nurses from Rhode Island’s five nursing programs additional skills and guidance from practicing registered nurses at clinical sites throughout the state. The workforce and skills development program was launched in October 2013 with 17 members, and already, 11 of them have secured full-time jobs. The remaining members say their various rotations have boosted their confidence, given them new skills, and helped them become comfortable with new techniques and technology.

Linda Hancock, who earned her nursing degree at Rhode Island College in 2013 after having run a business for 20 years, landed a full-time psychiatric nursing job at Rhode Island Hospital just six weeks into the residency program.

“It enabled many in the program to get back into nursing after having been out of work or out of school for a while,” said the Cumberland resident, whose first and only clinical rotation in the nurse residency program was with the Miriam Hospital. “I was able to practice my skills, including providing intravenous medications, antibiotics and the full range of care.”

Carolee V.C. Larimar began a full-time job in February in the neuro-intensive care unit of Rhode Island Hospital.

“This residency shortened my career path by allowing me to gain experience as a new grad in critical care,” Larimar said. “Normally, it takes several years to obtain the position that I just started…Like so many other career-driven nurses striving to make a difference and obtain a rewarding position, I was anticipating having to leave Rhode Island. I was packing boxes for New York City when I received the news I’d been accepted. This program allowed me to stay in Rhode Island and obtain a highly rewarding position.”

The program is unusual in the United States, as most nurse residency programs are affiliated with specific hospitals or agencies, while this one places its participants in practice settings ranging from nursing homes to community clinics as well as traditional hospital settings.

“It is the result of countless hours of development by nurse experts from academia and practice settings,” said Sandra S. Phillips, director of education at Kent Hospital and project director of the Passport to Practice Nurse Residency program.

Rhode Island joined Connecticut in 2012 as one of only two New England states and 20 nationally to receive funding from a joint Robert Wood Johnson Foundation/AARP program, with matching funds from Blue Cross and the Rhode Island Foundation.

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