Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center
VAMC enhances nurse training with residency program
The Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center nursing department has been chosen as one of seven pilot sites to participate in the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Academic Affiliations (OAA) VA Post-Baccalaureate Nurse Residency Program.
Historically, the VA has funded accredited residencies for Medicine, Dentistry, Psychology, Pharmacy and other clinical professions, but not for Nursing. The VAMC nursing department applied to be a pilot site for the residency program in June of 2012. They were chosen to participate and welcomed its first group of six nurse residents in September of 2012.
Nicole Coxe, RN and Nurse Residency Program Director, said the VAMC has had a residency type program in place in the past, but it wasn’t quite structured how it is with this current program.
“With this program the nurses are getting more training and hands-on time before being released on their own,” said Coxe. “The program is designed to strengthen the new nurses’ learning experiences during their first year of practice so that they can develop the critical skills needed for good nursing practice.”
Coxe added that nurses need to experience certain situations more than one time to get comfortable with them. The need for repeated exposure to situations with mentors available to answer questions and guide them is essential.
Edwin Triplett, RN, was chosen to participate in the nurse residency program in October 2012.
“This program offers newly graduated nurses the opportunity to see how each component of the hospital contributes to the total care of the patient,” said Triplett. “You gain experience in everything from primary care, urgent care, specialty care and more. It really allows nurses to assess which areas of nursing would be a good fit for them, and which areas are not.”
One goal of the program is to determine whether this type of program increases job satisfaction among its nurses at the end of the pilot year.
“The fact that we are only one of seven facilities chosen to offer this type of extended training, so newly graduated nurses are much more competent, confident and more prepared to care for our Veterans, is huge,” said Coxe.
The VAMC is funded for three years to participate in this program and recently recruited its next group of residents set to begin in August.