CommonSpirit Health and DHGE Launch Nation’s Largest and Most Innovative Nurse Residency Program

Nurses are the backbone of healthcare. They comprise 33% of the workforce at CommonSpirit Health, one of the nation’s largest health systems. Across America, labor data show the demand for registered nurses will continue to grow by 5% in the next five years. As shortages persist due to resignations and retirement, employers will need to not only recruit 1.1 million new nurses by 2026 but retain their existing staff.

As part of its five-year nursing strategic plan to combat this shortage, CommonSpirit Health has partnered with Dignity Health Global Education (DHGE) to create a modern and innovative method to train, educate, and support new nurses as they transition from their academic learning environments to professional clinical practice. To scale the program across the country, DHGE will leverage state-of-the-art learning technology and their expertise in instructional design to enrich its depth and expand its reach across the health system. By building a custom online learning platform, DHGE and CommonSpirit Health will allow graduate nurses to gain confidence and competence through carefully crafted curriculum pathways designed for nursing specializations. Throughout the experience, nurses will engage with in-person and virtual preceptors and participate in social learning communities spanning across hospitals.

Reaching more than 45,000 nurses across 21 states

Launching this spring, the centralized learning platform that DHGE is developing for CommonSpirit Health’s nurse workforce will connect more than 45,000 nurses across 21 states. This platform will not only host the Nurse Residency program for over 6,000 new nurses each year, it will provide a clear developmental pathway built upon interconnected digital badges and high-quality, easily accessible, evidence-based education to boost retention and skills. For employers, it provides system-wide competency development and employee engagement data to measure the true effectiveness of the program on the workforce.

“This will be a new kind of residency program wherein we ensure the level of training for preceptors is consistently high across our very large healthcare system, and we enable new nurses to go beyond what they’re learning in the unit and have unique didactic courses where mentors check in on proficiencies, challenges, and personal well-being,” shares Kathleen Sanford, Chief Nursing Officer of CommonSpirit Health.  “We want nurses to take care of all parts of their well-being including their physical, mental, and spiritual health — so they are healthy to care for others.”

Strengthening engagement and support

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health among practitioners and burnout are major contributors to the growing workforce shortage. Healthcare systems need to evolve to meet the changing needs of the workforce. The pandemic has made the transition from higher education to clinical practice more challenging and emotionally draining for graduate nurses. This new Nurse Residency program will offer education, mentorship, guidance, and clinical assistance to graduate nurses as they begin their careers in a hospital setting.

“Here at DHGE, we’re proud to work with CommonSpirit to build a meaningful and substantial nationwide Nurse Residency program. We can support nurses into the field and continually educate them for better outcomes in the communities that they serve. Equally, we will support CommonSpirit in the retention of nurses and create a stronger and better prepared workforce at scale. CommonSpirit has been innovative and forward-thinking in working with us on this project and we very much hope this approach will gain traction throughout healthcare,” says Andrew Malley, CEO at DHGE.

New nurses will receive education in unit-specific competencies as well as leadership, personal well-being, patient experience, and a range of other core areas throughout this 12-month competency-based program. Virtual and in-person preceptors will also provide them with support to help build on their academic preparation, all while gaining expertise in an acute care setting.

Increasing workforce satisfaction and retention

Alongside increasing consistency, DHGE and CommonSpirit will improve the collaborations across small and large hospitals by providing a platform to interact asynchronously. Connecting across this platform will help nurses build stronger relationships and enable them to support one another through the residency experience and beyond. The investment in the nurse residency program will improve overall retention across the workforce, build upon the culture of nursing best practices, and boost employee satisfaction through professional development, transition-in-practice support, and increased engagement.

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