Recently we conducted a review of current published articles (2015-2017) to evaluate evidence and recommendations for Transition into Practice programs including orientation and residency models. The evidence is clear in a number of areas:
- New graduate RN retention in the first year of employment is a challenge for hospitals, ranging from a low of 25% to a high of 64% or greater. Furthermore, the decision to leave nursing is frequently related to dissatisfaction with orientation and begins within the first few months of hire. The most frequently mentioned barriers to a smooth transition included: Lack of consistent preceptor communication, Short staffing, high patient acuity, having to make critical decisions without help, little personnel support, lack of skills and knowledge, high variability in the orientation process in different institutions, and emotional stress of “reality shock”.
- Implementation of residency/ internship models with multiple units and preceptors has been well documented to reduce turnover and increase retention of new graduates, increase nursing and unit satisfaction, provide significant cost savings for the hospital, and increase actual recruitment and desire for employment. The key factors contributing to success of residency programs can be incorporated into less formal orientation structures.
- Investment in preceptor development through training and feedback is critical to their effectiveness. Specific learning needs include development of affirmative coaching, dealing with difficult communication, creating civility in the workplace, specific teaching strategies and learning styles, the role of emotional intelligence in learning and how to effectively manage change.
- Effective preceptor coaching can significantly improve development of clinical reasoning and critical thinking.
- Preceptors need structured support and consistency of feedback based on shared data. They also need time to precept, role clarification, and some formal reward or recognition system for the critical importance of their work to safe practice and patient care.
- A few studies have begun to address the crucial need to support development of wellbeing and resilience skills of newly hired nurses. Transition stress has been documented for many years, and a strong preceptor relationship can help with this stress. There are other strategies that can be easily taught to new nurses and it is important to recognize the impact of supporting wellbeing on learning, competency development, and integration into the culture. Orientees can learn to manage their wellbeing and emotional/ physical stress; preceptors can help with this by tracking and coaching.
Research to improve efficiency and outcomes of transition into practice is increasing. While there is a need for ongoing correlational research the body of current evidence demands integration into our transition structures. One of the most comprehensive sites we have to support evidence based transition is the Vermont Nurses in Partnership (VNIP). Their website provides numerous resources, literature and concrete suggestions to improve transition process and outcomes. For more information visit their website or take a look at their Clinical Transition Framework Evidence Base.