MMC Nurse Residency Program (NRP)
The NRP at Maine Medical Center incorporates a year-long series of monthly, four-hour learning experiences designed to support new nurses as they transition into professional nursing practice. The evidence-based curriculum is based on the “novice to expert” model developed by Patricia Benner, PhD, RN and is backed by published research. The residency includes three primary areas of content:
- Patient safety
- Professional role
Regardless of their clinical setting, all new nursing graduates hired into MMC with less than one year of experience in acute care have participated in our residency program. Time dedicated to NRP sessions is slated in the work schedule as paid time. From August 2014 through March 2020, we have supported 628 new graduates through this program. We paused the formal program in March of 2020 due to COVID-19.
Flexibility During the Pandemic
Despite the onset of the pandemic, the onboarding of new graduate nurses at MMC continued throughout 2020 for a total of 164 new graduates that year. The new graduate nurses’ transition to practice was supported at the unit level during the pause in a formal NRP. Essential orientation classes shifted to electronic or virtual formats, while some remained in person.
At the local unit level, clinical educators provided structured and informal learning opportunities for the new nurses, in addition to their clinical orientation with a preceptor. Recognizing that many of the new graduate nurses may have had limited clinical experiences due to COVID, there was a strong focus on providing additional time to practice with hands-on skills. In addition to hands-on and assessment skills, education included clinical topics; prioritization, delegation, and communication skills; and quality metrics and practices related to providing evidence-based care. There was also time for the new grads to debrief with their peers on their clinical experiences with the educator as facilitator.
Educators also met with each new graduate, individually and with their preceptor, to assess their progression and assist with goal setting. In some situations, if a new graduate did not appear to be progressing as expected, the educator would work in a clinical assignment with the new graduate to assess potential gaps and develop an education plan.
The Nursing Department recognized the importance in supporting new graduate nurses in their transition to practice, despite the pandemic. In collaboration with the Center for Clinical & Professional Development, clinical educators, preceptors, and nursing leaders at the unit level, there was a concerted effort to provide that support.