UNLV and Valley Health System Start Nurse Residency Program To Ease Transition From Classroom To Hospital


LAS VEGAS - With one of the most severe nursing shortages in the country, Nevada also has one of the worst nurse retention records as well.  UNLV and the Valley Health System are planning to change all that as they launch a one-year residency program for nurses. Complete with funding and mentors to help introduce nurses to the realities of the health care, this may prove vital in easing the nursing shortage in Nevada, as well as the rest of the nation.

A recent UNLV study shows that 30 percent of Nevada nurses leave their first job within a year, and 57 percent leave within two years. They cite unsafe nurse-to-patient ratios and other patient care problems as their reasons.

UNLV received $646,000 from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration to develop a three-year pilot program for about 30 nursing school graduates annually. The residents will work at Valley Hospital Medical Center and Desert Springs Hospital. When the federal grant runs out, the program is expected to pay for itself with money Valley saves on recruiting and orienting new nurses. In Las Vegas, it can cost as much as $50,000 to recruit and train a new nurse.

Typically, Nevada nursing graduates have a three-month orientation period with a mentor before their nursing career begins. The nursing residency program will add nine months to their initial three-month orientation. Once a month residents will take a day off their floor assignment for peer support and education in professional practice, leadership, end-of-life care and critical thinking.
Residents will be paired with senior nurses for ongoing mentoring through the year.  Nurses often find the transition from school to hospital especially difficult when it comes to navigating relationships and understanding medical equipment.

New nurses interact with doctors, nurses, patients, lab technicians, pharmacy assistants, dietary specialists and others, all while caring for patients and checking monitors that measure their vital signs. Every time a patient gets out of bed they have to hook up portable devices that monitor heart rate, blood pressure and respiration, which can be stressful because patient safety is at stake with each plug they insert,

The UNLV-Valley nursing residency will be one of the few residency programs for nurses in the country, and essential in easing the nurse's transition from classroom to hospital.

By giving the new nurses the support they need, they are hopeful that the new program will help the young nurses handle the stress from the classroom to the hospital.

The Valley Health System has already created a national model for attracting and retaining nurses.  Valley's "trailing-spouse" program finds jobs for the husband or "significant other" of a female nurse, allowing her to make the transition to Las Vegas to work for Valley.  It's been so successful that frequently the spouse may find a better job long before the nurse makes the move to Valley.  The "trailing-spouse" program is the creation of Ronald Winkler at Valley.



  • I often tell people, do what is best for you.First let me say, LPNs are nusres. Depending on where you live, the scope of practice for LPNs are different and many can work in most areas doing most work like an RN.Next, all nusres have done scut work, if I may. That is so unfair to suggest that is all LPNs do.Some LPN school are hard to get into, too. Please be educated enough to answer questions. Please do not mislead.People go for LPN first for many reasons. One being not sure nursing is for them, etc.There are some LPNs who only want to be LPNs and not an RN.It is hard to say what works best for the individual. Search the pros and cons in relations to your situation.

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