Nurse residencies have long been associated with hospitals and the resources they provide, but long-term care facilities are starting to see their potential as they focus on hiring and retaining the best nurses.
When the University of Wisconsin realized new nurses were also starting to expect, or at least ask about, residency programs in long-term settings, that was a factor in the formation of the Geri-Res long-term care nurse residency programs, according to Kimberly Nolet, manager of the program and research manager for UW’s Center for Aging Research and Education.
“Organizations are starting to realize they have a role in developing the specialization,” she told Skilled Nursing News.
The Geri-Res program features two clinical components — the Clinical Coach and the RN Resident — and uses online learning modules that allow students and coaches to access the curriculum at any time.
The program started in 2014 with one organization and was expanded to a larger pilot group the following year following some revisions, Nolet said. So far, 18 organizations have either piloted or are currently piloting the program.
Attic Angel Place in Middleton, Wisconsin, is one of those organizations. The skilled nursing facility there features 30 long-term care suites and 14 rehabilitation suites. It has had the Geri-Res program in place for about a year, according to Lisa McGlynn, director of nursing services at Attic Angel.
Attic Angel was drawn to the program because it casts geriatric nursing and long-term care as a profession and a field in which nurses can take pride, McGlynn said. That’s in contrast to how the profession, generally speaking, tends to be overlooked by both schools and instructors, both McGlynn and Nolet indicated.
“We’re in an industry that does not have a lot of educational money being poured into it,” McGlynn told SNN.
Hospital settings tend to have more resources and specialists surrounding their nurse residents, at least in McGlynn’s view. By contrast, nurses are the front line in the long-term care setting.
“We do not have doctors on staff here. We do not have specialists that are here, and we do not have a lot of diagnostic equipment, so it’s really up to the nurse to be the eyes and ears,” McGlynn said.
Because of this outsized role nurses play in the long-term care setting, it’s crucial for them to understand the policies and procedures at a facility.
“We can tell the nurses and new graduates why they need to do something and how they need to do something, but it doesn’t always sink in,” McGlynn told SNN. “[The residency program] really puts them in the driver’s seat as the learner and has them take the ownership of their education and of their experience, and gives them a lot of confidence.”
The Geri-Res program allows nurses to examine their training in a more in-depth basis and get the background on the day-to-day procedures, according to Betsy Gerhardt, the PM shift supervisor at Attic Angel Place Health Center and coordinator of the Geri-Res program there.
Three nurses have now gone through Attic Angels’ program as residents, and as result they’ve gained critical thinking skills and confidence in their work, Gerhardt said. There’s also more buy-in from the rest of the staff, who are excited to be part of the learning opportunity, she said.
It helps the facility in other ways, as well.
“The residents are benefitting a lot, because the nurses are taking the extra step to make sure that they’re getting the best care,” Gerhardt said.
Written by Maggie Flynn