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What’s a nurse residency program and will it pay for college?


    Nurse residency programs are designed to help student nurses transition from a school setting to a real-world work setting—and everything that comes with that. These programs are usually offered in hospitals or other medical practices.

    In this article, we'll dive into what these programs are exactly and common questions people have about them, the most common being, do they pay?

    What's a nurse residency program?

    It's one thing to study nursing and another to be in a high-pressure job as a nurse. That's why many hospitals offer nurse residency programs—to transition nurses just out of school into a work environment and then to potentially use that pool of nurses in residency to hire full-time nurses.

    Nurse residency programs focus on strengthening nurses' decision-making skills in high-pressure situations, clinical leadership, and the real-life practice of nursing.

    Mentorship is also usually a significant aspect of nurse residency programs. Seasoned nurses work with new graduates to support them through becoming working nurses.

    Hospitals and medical practices often design their own nurse residency programs, which typically last for a year (although that depends on the program).

    Does a nursing residency program pay for nursing school?

    Depending on which hospital or medical practice you end up working at, there's a chance that they'll have a program to help pay off your student loans or to eradicate your debt entirely as a benefit.

    That being said, nursing residency programs don't typically pay for your tuition or your loans from nursing school. However, you do get paid as a resident nurse.

    Nursing residencies last about six months to a year (this depends on the program), and while nursing residents get paid less than registered nurses (RN), they get paid.

    How do I get placed in a nurse residency program?

    Hospitals that offer nurse residency programs for new graduates usually have it listed on their website's career pages. If interested, you should apply directly through the hospital's website.

    If you're selected to go through the interview process, you'll likely need to decide which specialty you're interested in pursuing. For instance, you can choose from options like medical surgery, labor and delivery, and ICU. If you're hired, you'll likely be expected to participate in your chosen specialty program.

    You're usually required to choose a nursing specialty because these residency programs are explicitly designed to give you real-life experience within that specialty. You'll be participating in training and classes to learn specialized information geared toward the specific position you were hired for.

    Are nurse residency programs worth it?

    Just like with any big decision, there are pros and cons when it comes to whether or not to enroll in a nurse residency program.

    Here are just a few questions to ask yourself about the nurse residency program you're considering to try to make the decision:

    • Does the mentorship and additional support offered by the program feel valuable?
    • Will you be under contractual obligation to work for the hospital or medical practice offering the program after you've completed your residency?
    • Does the program make financial sense to you?
    • Do you think the program will be a resume booster?
    • Does the residency program provide the ability to specialize?

    Final thoughts

    Nurse residency programs can be helpful in your development as a nurse and the ability to transition from student to RN. They can be a great way to get your foot in the door at a hospital or institution that offers these programs, too.