Hospitals generally are leery of hiring nurses right out of school. That's because new nurses lack experience, on-the-job training is expensive and they often can't be immediately placed in the most demanding areas such as the intensive-care unit, the operating room or the emergency department.
Meanwhile, experienced RNs are in high demand. It's particularly hard to find replacements for retiring nurses in ORs, ICUs and EDs, jobs that require advanced skills and critical thinking, said Rhonda Anderson, CEO of Cardon Children's Medical Center in Mesa, Ariz., and an editorial board member of the journal Nursing Economics.
But as hospitals pass over recent graduates for experienced RNs, they're leaving behind young nurses whose professional development will be stunted, said Joanne Spetz, an economics professor at the University of California at San Francisco's Institute for Health Policy Studies. “It's like we simultaneously have a shortage and a surplus, and that's weird,” said Spetz, who studies the economics of the nursing profession.
“It's extremely shortsighted for nurse leaders to do that,” Anderson said. “If we have really exceptional new graduates who work well with patients, we can teach them the skills and additional critical thinking.”
That's why some hospitals, including Cardon Children's, have created nurse residency programs to train new graduates, sometimes in specific specialties. AMN Healthcare, a San Diego-based staffing firm, has invested in a residency-type program that it calls the New Graduate Per Diem Program. It launched the program in 2013.