The School of Nursing at Rutgers University recently created an innovative nursing residency program to focus on preparing bachelor’s educated nursing graduates to work in out-of-hospital settings. Funded by the Helene Fuld Health Trust, a nonprofit foundation focusing on welfare and education of student nurses, Rutgers received a $4.7 million grant to get their new program off the ground. With a rapidly changing health care delivery system, a lot of nursing care is now occurring outside of hospital settings, causing a need for competent and caring nurses who can work outside the traditional hospital setting.
Rutgers’ new program was designed specifically to create opportunities for nursing graduates to explore their options for working outside of a hospital as a new nurse, and provide their students with the support and mentorship they need to be successful in an out-of-hospital nursing career. The shift in location of care has largely been a result of the Affordable Care Act and an increase in specialty care like geriatrics. Instead of primarily staffing nurses in hospitals settings, many nurses now also work in primary care, wellness, home care, rehabilitation centers, and geriatric settings.
The new initiative started by Rutgers places nurses in out-of-hospital settings for two semesters, the first program of its kind in the country. Academic nursing education has not been a major concern for nursing schools in the past because most graduates immediately enter the hospital workforce, but the new residency program will support new graduates in advanced care settings, with scholarships, and with assistance finding out-of-hospital opportunities upon graduating.
The first graduates of the out-of-hospital residency program are expected to begin their first semester in the fall of 2017. Students will be a part of the residency program in their fourth and final year before receiving their nursing degrees. During that year, all students will be assigned a coach to assist them in transitioning from a classroom setting to the actual health care workforce. To match students with job opportunities, Rutgers will be collaborating with clinical partners to develop partnerships where new graduates can participate in in-hospital residency experiences. The nursing school will also work with health care systems and clinical agencies to match students with facilities that match their individual strengths and goals.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be a 19 percent increase in the need for registered nurses by 2022 due to aging baby boomers. In New Jersey alone, 16,000 jobs were created from 2008 to 2013 in order to facilitate a growth in home health care services, continuing care retirement facilities, and nursing homes. Transitioning from nursing school to real health care practice is difficult and demanding for recent graduates, and transitioning to out-of-hospital settings is even more challenging. Rutgers intends to continue developing their out-of-hospital residency program as a strategy for revising undergraduate curricula to include increased focus on population health and care outside of hospital settings.
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