Increasing the Retention of New Registered Nurse Graduates through the Professional Nursing Career Program

Author: Samantha Aranda, MSN, APN, ACCNS-AG, CCRN-K

The professional nursing career program (PNCP) is housed in the clinical staffing office, created to recruit qualified new graduate nurses to Rush University Medical Center. PNCP’s mission is to clinically develop these new graduate nurses and provide them with opportunities to expand professionally and, ultimately, help them transition into a unit-based staff nurse position. This program allows new graduate nurses to work on various units at the Medical Center (one to two weeks per unit) with the goal of finding a home unit at the end of the 15-week program. In addition to the multi-unit experience, the new RNs are also enrolled in the Medical Center nurse residency program for their first six months and are provided with workshops and skills training on various topics.

The goal of PNCP is to increase retention rates of new graduate RNs in their first year of employment through improved enculturation and the ability to see multiple units where they can find the best fit for their personal career growth.

Since the inception of the program, we’ve had five cohorts of PNCP nurses. During FY 2021, we increased our cohort size from three or four nurses to seven and expanded the tracks beyond the medical, surgical and intensive care units to include the Emergency Department. Starting with our inaugural cohort, 88% of PNCP nurses remain Rush system employees. We have matriculated 24 nurses out of our PNCP while maintaining a retention rate of 96% for the first year. These nurses have become part of units across the Medical Center, including the general medicine floors, intensive care units, Emergency Department and Rush medical group. By nearly doubling the size of our annual cohort, we have been able to increase the nursing support in our units and ultimately improve the new graduate RN experience in the PNCP program.

Retention for PNCP Cohorts to Date