By Richard Asinof
PROVIDENCE – A first-of-its-kind statewide nurse residency program is now accepting applications through July 31 for its fall program, seeking applicants for a pilot program to train newly licensed, unemployed or underemployed nurses before they are hired, according to Alaina Johnson, executive director of Stepping Up, one of the groups coordinating the program.
Johnson said that participants in the new six-month nurse residency program, known as the Rhode Island Nurse Residency “Passport to Practice” program, would be trained in four different rotations, two in hospitals and two at community facilities, such as home care and long-term care.
The nurse residency program, which will be free to participants, features a flexible 32-hour-a-week schedule and includes uniforms as well as assistance with transportation and job placement. Program graduates will also be eligible for a small stipend upon completion of the nurse residency program.
Ideally, about 24 to 34 participants will be chosen from a projected pool of at least 60 applicants, creating “a good cohort,” Johnson said.
Stepping Up, in partnership with the Rhode Island Action Coalition for the Future of Nursing, have received $500,000 in grants to launch the new nurse residency program targeted at providing RNs with additional skills and experience.
In terms of need, Johnson said that Rhode Island is facing a critical shortage of nurses as more RNs retire and the state’s population ages.
The R.I. Department of Labor and Training has forecasted that by 2018, more than 4,500 nurses will be needed to replace the RNs that will retire or leave the profession. The median salary for an RN is around $64,500.
“Rhode Island has many registered nurses who are unemployed or underemployed, and this program provides free ‘Nurse of the Future’ training in hospitals, health centers, nursing homes, home care, and other community settings,” said Johnson. The program is unique, she continued, because “most residency programs are affiliated with traditional hospitals and generally involve only one facility.”
“As we all prepare for health care reform and aging patients, there’ll be so much more emphasis on the continuum of care, including primary care, community care and home health care,” said Sandra Phillips, director of the R.I. Nurse Residency “Passport to Practice” program.
Applications can be downloaded at www.steppingupri.org.