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
"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
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
"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
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.