Share this article

What to Expect From a Nurse Residency Program

Charmaine Robinson, MSN-Ed, BSN, RN
Updated July 7, 2023
    Wondering what to expect from your nurse residency? Explore these 100+ accredited nurse residency programs and uncover the pros and cons of enrollment.
    Nurse resident attending a seminarCredit: Getty Images
    • Many new nurse graduates cite lack of supervision as a reason for leaving the profession early in their careers.
    • Nurse residency programs help nurses transition smoothly into practice and remain in the profession.
    • Nurses should consider how nurse residency programs may affect their personal lives, professional development, and job outlook.

    Amidst the long-standing nursing shortage, nurses continue to leave the profession in droves — including new graduate nurses.

    According to the American Nurses Association, almost 18% of newly graduated nurses leave the profession within one year due to stressful working conditions and lack of leadership and supervision. Nurse residency programs have been shown to improve nurse retention rates and the transition into practice.

    A residency program may be advantageous if you are a new graduate nurse, a nurse re-entering the field, or a nurse changing specialties. Did you know that there are hundreds of programs to choose from? Explore these accredited nurse residency programs by state and discover what to expect when accepted into a program.

    mini logo

    Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

    What Is a Nurse Residency Program?

    A nurse residency is a training program at a clinical facility that assists new or re-entry nurses in preparing for a new nursing role. These programs allow nurses to manage patient loads and practice clinical skills in a supervised specialty setting before transitioning into an independent nurse role.

    Nurse residencies can last six months to a year and be paid or unpaid. During this time, nurses complete classroom, computer, and clinical training under the supervision of the nurse residency program director (or a clinical nurse educator) and a nurse preceptor.

    A nurse residency is the last step of supervised training before employment as an independent nurse — a critical and valuable time for new and re-entry nurses.

    Nurses should consider how these programs may positively or negatively affect their professional journeys.

    Popular Online RN-to-BSN Programs

    Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

    Loading...Learn More
    Visit Site
    Loading...Learn More
    Visit Site
    Loading...Learn More
    Visit Site

    The Pros and Cons of Nurse Residency Programs

    Consider several factors while preparing for a nurse residency program, including how the program will affect your personal life, professional development, and job outlook. While there are many benefits, there are some potential drawbacks.

    Pros of a Nurse Residency Program

    • checkPay potential: Unlike training in nursing school, some nurse residency programs are paid. Some hospitals even pay a salary comparable to that of an independent nurse.
    • checkExtended supervised training: Nurse residency programs can provide you with an opportunity for extended supervised training with a nurse. You will have more time to ask questions, develop confidence, and sharpen critical thinking and clinical skills.
    • checkOpportunity to get your foot in the door: If you want to work at the hospital where you do your residency, you can showcase your clinical skills. You can also network with nurses and managers in other departments for increased employment opportunities.
    • checkIncreased chance of staying in the profession: The first year of nursing is the most difficult. Completing a nurse residency program can increase your chances of making it through the first year on your own.

    Cons of a Nurse Residency Program

    • xProgram length: Nurse residency programs can be lengthy (up to one year). After completing clinical rotation training in nursing school, you will complete even more training before practicing as an independent nurse.
    • xPotential to feel like a student again: A nurse residency can feel like nursing school all over again. You may have to attend classes at the hospital, join a new graduate nurse cohort, meet course objectives, and complete homework assignments.
    • xVaried shifts: Nurse residency shifts may vary from a few short hours to a full 12-hour shift. Depending on the facility, you may be unable to choose your department, schedule, or shift.
    • xCommitment expectation post-residency: Some hospitals may expect you to serve for up to a year after completing the residency. If your residency was initially competitive, the hospital may want a return on its investment.

    If you have weighed the pros and cons and feel prepared for a nurse residency, start your journey by reviewing the many opportunities available.

    Accredited Nurse Residency Programs By State

    There are hundreds of accredited nurse residency programs across the U.S. Although residency programs do not have to be accredited, those with accreditation meet higher standards of excellence. Maximize your opportunities for future employment by exploring these accredited nurse residency programs listed by state.