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Nursing residency program helps train future Valley View staff

John Stroud
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
Becky Young/Courtesy Valley View Hospital Jessica Moberg, left, a participant in the Nursing Residency Program at Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs, works with Sharon Close, RN, in the hospital's surgical recovery facility on Monday.
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GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Leaving the college setting and entering the real world can be a daunting transition for any young professional just entering the workforce.

But imagine being introduced to the often hectic hospital emergency room or surgical environment as a young nurse just out of college without some sort of on-the-job training and structured guidance.

It’s a culture shock that causes 72 percent of nurses nationally to leave their job within the first two years, upon finding themselves under-prepared and over-stressed, according to statistics provided by Valley View Hospital.

“There is a lot of stress for young nurses when they find out what the actual job environment is like,” said Nancy Smith, staff development director and a nurse herself at Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs.

Coupled with a nationwide nursing shortage, and the fact that it can cost up to $70,000 for recruitment and benefits for a new nurse, it’s a loss hospitals can ill afford.

Currently, Valley View hires a number of “traveler nurses” to fill some of its critical care needs, Smith said. But ideally the hospital would like to provide that level of experience entirely within its own staff.

So, in an effort to grow and maintain an adequate nurse staffing level, Valley View began its new Graduate Nurse Residency Program last July.

Hospitals around the country have found residency programs successful in retaining nurses, Smith said.

The residency program gives new nurse graduates the support and on-the-job training they need by having them apprentice with a practicing nurse “preceptor,” or teacher, for up to a year.

“It’s really almost like going back to the way it used to be where nurses trained in the hospital setting,” Smith said. “You still need a certain level of theory, which you get in the classroom setting. But there is also a need for some practical experience before you’re really ready.”

Especially in critical care units, such as the ER or surgical services, it can take at least six to eight months just to get used to the environs, she said.

Valley View also works closely with Colorado Mountain College’s nursing program to give students coming out of its associate degree program that next level of training.

“We are working with CMC closer than ever, and we are thriving on that collaborative relationship,” Smith said.

Jessie Moberg is a recent nursing graduate who is in Valley View’s residency program.

“As a nursing student, I had a wide knowledge base,” she says. “But without clinical experience, I was unable to fit the puzzle pieces together. (The residency program) gave me the opportunity to learn and grow as a new nurse.”

The Valley View Hospital Foundation has also adopted the nurse residency program as its main funding project this year.

“The bottom line is that the nurse residency program just makes sense,” said Frank McSwain, foundation director. “It results in less burnout and fewer mistakes, which means better care for the patients.”


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