Developing the Next Generation of Nurses

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Kaiser Permanente Northern California’s Nurse Residency and Fellowship Program trains new and experienced RNs to fill in-demand positions in nursing. Pictured above, Marta Gillick, RN.

As the daughter of 2 doctors, Marta Gillick, RN, grew up fascinated by her parent’s anatomy books. Her father is a surgeon, and Gillick dreamed of becoming an operating room nurse. But when Gillick became a registered nurse in 2014, she said there weren’t many opportunities to specialize.

Nurse residents and fellows in the Perioperative Services training program at Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara learn to gown and glove.

Things changed for Gillick in 2016. She began working in a medical/surgical unit for the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Santa Clara and then applied for a training position in Perioperative Services. Now she’s on her way to becoming an operating room nurse.

“When I got this opportunity, I thought it was like winning the lottery,” Gillick said. “I know there are a lot of nurses out there who would like to move into the OR, so I just feel really blessed.”

Meeting Current and Future Workforce Needs

Gillick is 1 of 131 Kaiser Permanente Northern California registered nurses who have completed or are currently participating in the organization’s Nurse Residency and Fellowship Program offered through its Nurse Scholars Academy. Both programs train RNs to work in specialty departments such as Labor and Delivery or Perioperative Services at 1 of Kaiser Permanente’s 21 regional medical centers.

“This program is designed to help our medical centers fill current and future nursing positions in specialty care areas,” explained Ryan Fuller, RN, Kaiser Permanente Northern California Residency and Fellowship Program director. “Nursing schools primarily train graduates to work in medical/surgical units, so there’s an opportunity for us to provide formalized specialty training for our new and existing nurses.”

Nurses in the Labor and Delivery training program participate in an infant resuscitation simulation.

The nurse residency is designed for newly licensed registered nurses as they transition to professional practice, while the nurse fellowship supports experienced nurses who are interested in entering a specialty practice area.

“We want the best and the brightest practicing in our medical centers so they can provide extraordinary care for our members,” said Theresa Brodrick, RN, PhD, Kaiser Permanente regional chief nurse executive and vice president of Clinical Integration. “This program helps us recruit and retain that nursing talent.”

Training Competent and Caring Nurses

The Nurse Residency and Fellowship Program launched in fall 2016, and new training courses start each fall and spring. The program began with a 16-week course for Labor and Delivery nurses and a 6-month course for perioperative nurses. This fall, a third course was added for newly licensed medical/surgical nurses, and next spring, a fourth will begin for critical care nurses.

Training courses typically include a mix of newly licensed nurses and experienced RNs who spend 3 to 4 days a week in clinical training, working alongside an experienced nurse preceptor at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center where they were hired.

“This gives our experienced nurses the chance to pass on their knowledge and help build the next generation of professional, competent, and caring nurses,” Fuller said.

Ryan Fuller, RN, (far left) leads a group discussion with Medical/Surgical nurse residents as part of the professional development program.

The courses also include classroom time led by Kaiser Permanente nurse educators at select locations around the region. Each course is built on curriculum from nationally recognized organizations such as the Association of Operating Room Nurses and includes online learning, lectures, simulations, skills labs, and presentations from experts in their field.

Nurse residents and fellows also attend a monthly, 12-month professional development program. The program focuses on leadership, quality outcomes, and the professional role of the RN. As part of the program, nurses complete an evidence-based practice project at their medical center.

Preparing for a Dream Career

After the residents and fellows complete their formal training, they continue to work with RN preceptors in their medical centers until they’re ready to work on their own.

Marta Gillick said she’s found her perioperative course challenging, but she feels the training is preparing her well for the career she’s been dreaming of.

“I knew the learning curve was going to be steep, but having the theory, the evidence-based practice, and the hands-on experiences, all the tools we can now put into our professional box, has helped a lot. I’m just happy to be doing this,” she said.

Learn more about Kaiser Permanente’s Nurse Residency and Fellowship Program.

Discussion2 Comments

  1. Shrmila "Meela" Horiuchi

    I can’t begin to explain how “ECSTATIC” I am about this! I’m a medical assistant in General Surgery and currently taking my prerequisites for the nursing program. It’ll be 15 years that I’ve been with Kaiser Permanente this January and I’ve been hoping for this opportunity to evolve. … This is such a blessing!!!!

  2. So happy to see this program! There hasn’t been a lot of opportunity for nurses to change their specialty nor have there been many programs for new grads. This is fantastic!

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