Dean Holzemer

The Dean’s Desk | Thoughts from Rutgers Nursing Leadership

Innovative Residency Program Prepares Grads for Challenges Outside the Hospital

Friday, April 7, 2017

William L. Holzemer, RN, PhD, FAAN
Rutgers University School of Nursing

As nursing educators, we are constantly challenged to adjust to the ever-changing conditions of the healthcare world so that we can better prepare our students to face the challenges they will face in the world of patient care.

In recent years, a key issue has been that more and more care is provided outside the hospital settings where most nursing school graduates have expected to begin their careers. Thanks to a $4.7 million grant from the Helene Fuld Health Trust, the Rutgers School of Nursing in recent months established an innovative residency program to help our fourth-year bachelor’s degree graduates find and thrive in those increasingly important out-of-hospital settings. Our participating 2017 graduates’ first out-of-hospital assignments are expected to begin next fall.

The program – which we believe is America’s first – helps assure that Rutgers nursing graduates have the support and mentorship they need to succeed in fields such as primary care, wellness, home care, rehabilitation, and geriatric care.  Each new graduate in the program will serve a two-semester residency in an out-of-hospital setting; Rutgers faculty and administrators will work with students to find a setting appropriate to their personal capabilities and interests. Participating students also can receive help finding scholarships to further their nursing education so that they are better prepared for the special challenges of work outside a hospital.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 19 percent increase in the need for registered nurses through 2022, largely to serve the aging Baby Boomer population whose growing desire to “age in place” can be met only with extensive home health services.  Here in New Jersey alone, home health care services, continuing care retirement facilities and nursing homes added a combined 16,000 jobs between 2008 and 2013.

Each participant in the program (we expect to have 40 annually) will be assigned a coach during the fourth and final year of their nursing education to help them transition from the classroom to the health care workforce. The school already is working closely with health care systems and clinical agencies across New Jersey to match individual strengths and career goals with the needs of the facilities where the residents will work. Eventually, a new career counseling center also will be incorporated within the residency program.

Even as this out-of-hospital effort evolves, it’s important to remember Rutgers will continue collaborating with clinical partners to help students find residences in traditional hospital settings, if that is where they wish to launch their careers.

The Helene Fuld Health Trust is a nonprofit foundation that focuses on health, welfare and education of student nurses.




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