At Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, our nurses are trusted leaders who have a longstanding commitment to training. In that spirit, BIDMC has launched an innovative approach that is helping BIDMC to educate, develop, and retain a diverse nursing staff that is reflective of the communities served by the medical center.
The Transition to Practice Nursing Residency Program creates a new pathway for nurses to extend their education and advance their careers at BIDMC. The program is made possible through philanthropic support, including a generous gift of $1.1 million from the Lunder Foundation. Supporting the healthcare workforce, specifically nurses, is a cornerstone of the foundation’s giving. Peter and Paula Lunder, who lead the foundation’s philanthropic efforts, state, “We are confident that this program will have a positive impact in working toward a more equitable, inclusive healthcare system.”
A Diversified Workforce
Guided by research that shows bachelor’s-educated nursing workforces yield superior patient outcomes, BIDMC requires that entry-level nurses hold bachelor’s of nursing (BSN) degrees. But, as Bridget Gardner, program manager in BIDMC’s Office of Workforce Development, explains, many nurses launch their careers through associate’s degree programs at community colleges while working full-time. “We didn’t want to exclude this group,” says Gardner. “We asked ourselves, was there a way we could reach these talented nurses, hire them for positions at BIDMC, and put them on a path toward receiving their bachelor’s degrees?”
With this in mind, the Transition to Practice Nursing Residency Program was created in 2019. Each year, the groundbreaking two-year program accepts 12 applicants who have completed or are enrolled in an associate’s degree program. Nurses who are selected are hired to work at BIDMC for 36 hours a week—32 on their unit and 4 on professional development initiatives. In addition, one day each week, they attend BSN classes at Emmanuel College, with tuition and educational expenses fully paid.
“This unique program has enabled us to expand our nursing workforce by removing a critical barrier to employment, while staying true to our commitment to excellence and education,” says Marsha Maurer, DPN, RN, Senior Vice President for Patient Care Services and Cynthia and Robert J. Lepofsky Chief Nursing Officer at BIDMC.
Creating an Environment for Success
Among the program’s unique features is its tremendous level of support to ensure nurse residents succeed in a challenging, fast-paced environment. “We’ve taken into consideration the many stresses in life,” says Shelley Calder, DNP, RN, Associate Chief Nurse for Professional Development and Research at BIDMC. “We made sure the program also provides some additional financial support, such as health and wellness, professional nursing association memberships, and assistance with transportation expenses.” Importantly, she adds, the program provides participants with tools to manage being a full-time student while working and elicits feedback from participants to ensure continual improvements.
The effort has already seen tremendous success: in 2021, six participating BIDMC nurses earned their bachelors’ degrees, and 11 additional nurses are expected to graduate in 2022. Rachel Bresilla, RN, is among the first group of graduates. The daughter of Haitian immigrants, whose father recently retired after more than 20 years working in Environmental Services at BIDMC, Bresilla was especially excited to learn of this new initiative. “When I started, I knew it would make my father so proud for me to be at the medical center,” she says. Now as a nurse specializing in caring for patients undergoing vascular surgery, Bresilla says the nursing residency experience has provided her with a depth of experience and training she couldn’t have imagined.
“Opportunities like this don’t exist anywhere else,” says Bresilla. “I feel so grateful to BIDMC and to its donors for investing in this program.”