by Debianne Peterman, vice president of clinical education and professional development for the TriStar Division of HCA

Life After Nursing School

Probably one of the hardest decisions a new nurse graduate will make (besides deciding to become a nurse in the first place) is choosing where to begin their professional nursing career. This is particularly challenging in a healthcare environment that is seeing a nursing shortage in many areas (Buerhaus, Staiger, & Auerbach, 2008) and financial concerns with reimbursement continually shrinking (Buerhaus, 2009).

Nurse residency programs provide a unique opportunity to start your nursing career on the right foot. That’s why you should carefully weigh all your options and apply for programs that are committed to your growth and professional development.

What to Look For in a Nurse Residency Program

New nurse graduates should look for healthcare organizations that are willing to invest in their professional development as new graduates. Nursing students should look for nurse residency programs that include robust orientation, precepted onboarding experiences, and continuous development during their first twelve months of employment.

Ulrich, et al., (2010) defined the characteristics of nurse residency programs to include:

  • Standardized curriculum and competency assessment
  • Support systems
  • Opportunities to apply knowledge in a safe environment
  • Continuous evaluation and assessment of the new nurse graduates and the program

Preparing to be a Professional Nurse

Nurse residency programs prepare new nurses for practice in acute care settings.

The IOM/RWJF study on the future of nursing (IOM, 2010) and the Carnegie study on nursing education (Benner et al., 2010) both support the need for nurse residency programs to provide nurse graduates with a supported transition into practice. Nurse residency programs prepare new nurses for practice in acute care settings and encourage new nurses to remain in these settings while they continue to grow in their professional careers.

The TriStar Nurse Residency Program ensures the competency and confidence of registered nurses and is a win-win for our new graduate nurses and the patients that they will care for in their practice settings.


Benner, P., Sutphen, M., Leonard, V., & Day, L. (2010). Educating nurses: A call for radical transformation. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Buerhaus, P. I. (2009). The shape of the recovery: Economic implications for the nursing workforce. Nursing Economic$, 27(5), 338-340, 336.

Buerhaus, P., Auerbach, D., & Staiger, D. (2009). The recent surge in nurse employment: Causes and implications. Health Affairs (web exclusive), w657-668. Retrieved from

Institute of Medicine (IOM). Committee on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Initiative on the Future of Nursing. (2010). The future of nursing: Leading change, advocating health. Washington, DC: National Academies Press. Retrieved from

Ulrich B; Krozek C; Early S; Ashlock CH; Africa LM; Carman ML, Nursing Economic$ [Nurs Econ], ISSN: 0746-1739, 2010 Nov-Dec; Vol. 28 (6), pp. 363-76; Publisher: Anthony J. Jannetti, Inc.