Since the mid-1990s, Samuel Merritt University School of Nursing (SoN) has been a leading institution with the most number of new graduate nurses who are eligible to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX) and, for the most part, they have all been hired by local hospitals. Recently, however, the tough economy has forced employers to reduce new hiring.
Today, some nursing school graduates, like Maria Kiernik, consider themselves fortunate to find any nursing job. "I am a registered nurse and a certified public health nurse and I am still looking to find a full-time job; it isn't easy," said Kiernik, who graduated from SMU's Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) and earned her degree in 12 months, graduating in May 2009. "Often times I hear, 'Sorry, but this position has been filled by an internal candidate or the position has been put on hold until further notice.' A month ago I applied for a position where there were 615 applications to fill seven positions."
This past January, Kiernik was browsing the SMU website when she discovered the university was offering an RN residency program designed for new grads unable to find a job. The SMU Transition to Professional Nursing Practice (T2P) program allows new grads to attend for free who could ultimately transition into a position as a working RN.
"The T2P program will put 40 unemployed new grads, who have passed the NCLEX and are RNs, into hospitals and home care in both Sacramento and the Bay Area for a week internship," explained Arlene Sargent, EdD, MSN, RN, associate dean for academic programs at SMU. "We are proud to have Kaiser Permanente as a major clinical partner in this new program."
Candidates are required to be graduates of nursing schools in five Bay Area counties (Alameda, San Francisco, Marin, San Mateo or Santa Clara) or Sacramento with current California RN licenses. Preference was given to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) graduates and to those who had been out of school the longest. Participants who complete the program will receive a certificate of completion; any ADN grads may receive credit toward a BSN, and BSN grads may receive credit toward an MSN after completing requirements for graduate credit.
"The majority of placements will be in Kaiser Permanente facilities in the Bay Area and Sacramento, as well as John Muir Medical Centers in Walnut Creek and Concord," said Sergeant. "The majority of placements will be in med/surge to give the new grads experience with caring for patients with a variety of complex health care needs."
Through the T2P program, Kiernik is able to do her nursing preceptorship at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco. She was able to find a position in the Neo Natal Intensive Care Unit. "I worked hard to learn my skills and knowledge about healthcare when I was in nursing school and I don't want to lose it," said Kiernik. "Everyone at the KP hospital, from nurses to physicians, have all been very supportive and made me feel like part of the team. The T2P program is an amazing opportunity to network with people."
"Samuel Merritt is providing clinical faculty, liability insurance, and didactic practicums," explained Sargent. "The primary cost to the medical centers is the allocation of preceptors for each of the nurse residents." Sargent adds that this is also an opportunity for the medical centers to evaluate the new grad nurses before actually hiring them, or finding out if they're a fit for the facility's culture.
For more information about the Professional Nursing Practice program, visit www.samuelmerritt.edu.
Samuel Merritt University, located on "Pill Hill" in Oakland, is educating health science practitioners who are committed to making a positive difference in diverse communities. Nearly 1,400 students are enrolled at SMU, with campuses in Oakland, Sacramento, San Francisco and San Mateo. The university offers an undergraduate degree in nursing; master's degrees in nursing, occupational therapy, physician assistant; and doctoral degrees in physical therapy and podiatric medicine.