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UCH's Graduate Nurse Residency Program a "Successful Hiring Pipeline"

Like all academic hospitals, University of Colorado Hospital faces challenges in hiring experienced nurses due to its highly acute patient mix -- but a groundbreaking, very successful residency program has helped keep its nurse supply flowing.

Many graduates of the program have used it as a stepping-stone to careers as charge nurses, nurse educators, preceptors and more.

UCH's Graduate Nurse Residency Program (GNRP), which the hospital runs in partnership with the University of Colorado Denver College of Nursing, provides one year of post-baccalaureate education, including 12 to 24 weeks of precepted experience on a clinical unit, specialty coursework and monthly support meetings.

In turn, residents who successfully complete the program commit to a second year in the employ of the hospital, ensuring a steady flow of nurses.

Many program graduates have used it as a stepping-stone to careers as charge nurses, nurse educators, preceptors and more, notes GNRP coordinator JoAnn DelMonte, RN, MS.

Read the rest of this story from June 2009 . . .

A successful hiring pipeline

The program has been a proven success for the hospital since its inception, providing more than 700 new nurse hires, says Erica Velasquez, Human Resources patient services recruiter.


"It's a pipeline for nurses," she says, adding that of 120 experienced nurses the hospital hires each year, 90 to 100 are new graduates of the GNRP. "It's the only way for a new grad to get hired at UCH," Velasquez adds.


That fact makes the GNRP program doubly important for UCH, which typically hires experienced nurses with at least a BSN degree, notes Mary Krugman, RN, PhD, director of Professional Resources.


Experienced nurses as mentors

The hospital's combination of new graduate nurses and experienced nurses strengthens and diversifies its workforce, Krugman emphasizes. "We're fortunate to have great experienced nurses to mentor new grads," she says. "We couldn't manage the program without their mentorship. It's a great tribute to them that they have been generous and [ready to share] their experience and knowledge."


The GNRP program has developed a national reputation, as evidenced by the large number of applications it receives for its three yearly classes. For example, more than 300 nurses from around the country applied for 45 openings in the July 2009 class.


Because residency programs support evidence-based nursing practice, which emphasizes patient care and decision making based on patient preferences, research and clinical expertise, "they fit into the level of quality we provide at our hospital," notes Carolyn Sanders, RN, PhD, the hospital's Chief Nursing Officer. "Encouraging entry-level nurses to [pursue this type of training] will help us become a top ten institution."


Next step: accreditation

The hospital's GNRP program is now seeking to become one of the first residency programs granted accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). It has submitted its application, and expects a site visit by CCNE sometime in fall 2009.

This page is adapted from a story that appeared in the UCH Insider, the hospital's candid e-newsletter. The Insider, which is published biweekly, is available to people outside the hospital via a free e-mail subscription. Tyler Smith ( is managing editor of the Insider.


. . . then read about our progress since then!

(click image or link to open PDF)

Program Accreditation

Still Growing after 10 Years

Graduate Nurse Residency Program AccreditationFrom May 2010 Nurse Residency Program continues to growFrom April 2012