Secondary Logo

Journal Logo

Helping New Nurses Bridge the School-to-Practice Gap

doi: 10.1097/NNE.0b013e318238334e
Departments: News, Notes and Tips

Even if nurse educators prepare competent, skilled graduates, healthcare facilities still must develop effective strategies to retain new graduates to solve the current nursing shortage. A recent article in HealthLeaders Media1 offers 5 specific suggestions to assist hospitals in transitioning new graduates and, thus, to hopefully increase career engagement and commitment: (1) provide competency-based orientation, (2) offer a residency program for nurses, (3) encourage mentoring relationships, (4) encourage good nurse managers, and (5) recognize accomplishments and provide career support.

Orientation programs for new graduates need to be based on competency assessments to meet individual needs and to address the skill sets required for specific practice areas. Hospitals with nurse residency programs that support nurses throughout their first year of practice report increased competencies and retention among new graduates. In addition, nurse residency programs save hospitals from $200,000 to $400,000 per year. Formal and informal mentoring strategies assist the new graduate with development of professional and personal coping strategies and in identifying needs for career growth. Moreover, reports show that new nurse graduates benefit from nurse managers who provide clear expectations, create a healthy work environment, and recognize educational needs. Hospitals should provide resources to assist nurse managers in developing coaching skills. New nurses also benefit from patient care organizations that support educational interests, encourage involvement, and support evidence-based actions. Facilities wherein these strategies are followed report excellent retention of new nurses.1

As nurse educators, we can assist our graduates in recognizing the need for these supportive strategies. We should acquaint our students with possible transition-into-practice issues and provide information to help them identify facilities that will address these issues. Our role in assisting their transition into practice can certainly be informative and advisory.


1. Hendren R. 5 Ways to retain new graduate nurses. HealthLeaders Media. July 5, 2011. Available at Accessed July 7, 2011.

Source: American Nurses Association. 5 Ways to ensure long-term commitment from new nurses. ANA SmartBrief. July 6, 2011. Available at Accessed July 7, 2011.

Submitted by: Robin E. Pattillo, PhD, RN, CNL, News Editor at

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.