Thursday, January 6, 2022

By: Jessica Grote DNP, RN, NPD-BC (IONRP Coordinator)

Multiple hands coming together

I have always known nurses who wanted to travel. Heck, I was one of those nurses years ago. When I first started nursing over ten years ago, nurses didn’t travel at all until they had been nurses for at least two years. That was the unspoken rule. However, that’s not the case anymore. I recently had a couple of new graduates in our online nurse residency program tell me they were planning to travel here soon and had recruiters reaching out to them regularly. I was surprised by this information and found myself asking a few questions: Will they have the support they need as a new graduate? Do they have enough experience? What will happen if a case goes bad? Who will they reach out to? Will this lack of support and expertise along with the current healthcare atmosphere lead to burnout? Or will they leave the profession altogether?  

To address this, we must first look at what is going on in our healthcare systems. Inconsistent policies, lack of PPE, communication issues, and psychological stress all add to the burden on a nurse1Now imagine managing these concerns in addition to being a new graduate. Our online residents have discussed their challenges during our live discussions and often include:  

  • Staffing not feeling adequate 
  • Already training new nurses 
  • Picking up extra shifts every week 
  • Lack of rest 
  • Feeling unable to say no 
  • General overwhelm 
  • Working with multiple travelers who don’t know their organization well 
  • Perceived lack of support from leadership 

What can we, as nurse leaders, do to support our new graduate nurses, with the hopes of them staying in our organizations? Following our latest blog, "Nurse Residency: Support is the Key to Success," a site coordinator shared, during a recent Site-Coordinator Cafe2, that she started asking her residents during the monthly check-ins how things are going at home and what they enjoy doing when not at work. This was done as a way to learn more about them holistically. This led to a great discussion on the need to personalize conversations with new graduates to make them feel a part of the team, show them we genuinely care about them, and that they belong to the organization. Doing so also allows nurse leaders to establish strong relationships with their new graduate nurses and find out more about the needs of their employees. 

So, what do we ask our residents during our check-ins? Don’t feel like you need to re-invent the wheel. Rose Sherman EdD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, recently shared a blog post discussing the use of 'stay interviews' with nurse residents3. Nurse leaders are encouraged to ask these five questions:  

  1. “What do you look forward to each day when you commute to work?  
  2. What are you learning here, and what do you want to learn?  
  3. Why do you stay here?  
  4. When was the last time you thought about leaving us, and what prompted it?  
  5. What can I do to make your job better for you?”  

Take the opportunity to be intentional with your residents during your monthly check-ins. Hear their concerns. Offer support and guidance. We may not compete with the pay travelers receive, but we must think about what we can offer. We can offer them support, education opportunities, a work family, and leaders who genuinely care about them and their wellbeing.

Jessica Grote DNP, RN, NPD-BC
Program Coordinator, IONRP


  1. Norful, A. A., Rosenfeld, A., Schroeder, K., Travers, J. L., & Aliyu, S. (2021). Primary drivers of psychological manifestations of stress in frontline healthcare workforce during the initial COVID-19 outbreak in the United States. General Hospital Psychiatry, 69, 20-26. 
  2. IONRP Site-Coordinator Café is a monthly Zoom call that enables any residency coordinators from all partner facilities to network and connect discussing hot topics relating to supporting new graduate nurses and implementing the Iowa Online Nurse Residency Program.   
  3. Sherman, R. O. (2021). Conducting stay interviews with nurse residents. Emerging Nurse Leader.