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Grad Students and Director of the PB-RNR program Allison Boyrer, EdD, MS, BSN, RN

Residencies Help New Grads Transition from Student to Nurse

VA-based programs develop clinical nursing skills to build upon education

Written by Bob Mook on March 21, 2023

When Brittney Fuller (BSN ’22, RN) and Amanda Worley (BSN ’22, RN) graduated from the University of Colorado College of Nursing at Anschutz Medical Campus in May 2022, they had the knowledge they needed to be nurses. Yet, both preferred to transition into their careers gradually with more support and experience.

Before graduating, the alumnae applied for the Eastern Colorado Health Care System (ECHCS) - Rocky Mountain Regional (RMR) VA Medical Center Post-Baccalaureate Registered Nurse Residency program (PB-RNR), and began the program last September.

ECHCS’s PB-RNR program is one of the VA’s centrally funded nurse residencies supported by the Office of Academic Affiliations (OAA) across the nation. The ECHCS residency gives recent graduates the chance to apply what they’ve learned while giving them the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in a real-world clinical setting.

Fuller and Worley, who are both completing the program at the VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System (located across the street from Anschutz Medical Campus), say their experience has been valuable and life-changing so far.

Residents like the program

Currently, Fuller works on the cardiac medical oncology floor of the VA hospital in Aurora. Six months into the program, she says it has broadened her horizons.

“I’ve made some of the best relationships with the preceptors and other nurses,” Fuller says. “I’ve really found a home there.”

She adds that working with veterans has been meaningful and worthwhile and that she hopes to land a placement at the VA hospital once the residency is finished.

“This population is the best,” Fuller says. “I love working with veterans, and I wouldn’t want to work with any other population. I think this would be a great opportunity for anybody – even if you don’t end up in the VA.”

Worley says the PB-RNR program has introduced her to new sides of nursing that she didn’t know about.

Residency criteria details:

PBR-NR: Applicants for the PB-RNR residency must have a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, meet physical examination standards at the time of entry, and be a graduate of a BSN program accredited by the CCNE or ACEN. To be eligible, applicants need to be licensed as an RN for less than one year and have no RN work experience. After passing the NCLEX, selected applicants will begin the program on September 11, 2023.

MHNPR: The 12-month MHNPR residency combines clinical practicum experiences, specialty rotations, and didactic education to provide well-rounded experience for newly graduated nurse practitioners. Applicants must be recent graduates with a master’s, post-master’s certificate or a doctoral-level nurse practitioner program accredited by the CCNE or the ACEN. They must also be serving in their first role as a Mental Health Nurse Practitioner and hold a current Psychiatric Mental Health board certification.

“I am someone who likes to switch things up,” Worley says. “I enjoy being open-minded about going into practice with the willingness to learn. It’s been nice essentially establishing my practice through all these seasoned nurses that have been doing this for years and years.”

Opportunities for upcoming grads

This coming September, recent graduates like Fuller and Worley will get a chance to apply what they’ve learned through the PB-RNR program as well as a new Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Residency program (MH-NPR). Both residencies provide a wide range of experiences for participating graduates.

Now recruiting for its third cohort (applications due by May 5th, 2023) PB-RNR is a comprehensive 12-month program. Each resident will get an assigned preceptor who provides interprofessional educational activities for both experiential and didactic learning. The program develops knowledge and skills to address the specific needs of veterans, the opportunity to make a difference and work on evidence-based practice projects, an annual stipend, and benefits.

Launching this year, the mission of the MH-NPR residency is to prepare novice Nurse Practitioners (NP’s) to deliver evidence-based, high-quality, patient-centric care to veterans. The program is designed to transition newly graduated Mental Health Nurse Practitioners to Advanced Beginner Mental Health Providers by providing a wide variety of learning opportunities both in the inpatient and outpatient mental healthcare settings.

CU College of Nursing is the academic affiliate for both programs.

“I would recommend this program to any nurse just graduating from nursing school because it gives you that ability to have year-long preceptor mentor experiences that you might not be able to get if you enter the workforce as soon as you graduate.” – Allison Boyrer, EdD, MS ‘17, BSN, RN, Manager of the Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center PBR-NR program

Programs help graduates make transitions

As Director of the PB-RNR program and CU Nursing alumna, Allison Boyrer, EdD, MS ‘17, BSN, RN, says both programs are intended to expose recent graduates to different areas of nursing.

Boyrer, who was the first graduate of CU Nursing’s Veteran & Military Healthcare Master of Science program in 2017, says the PB-RNR program provides opportunities for graduates to try different roles within a clinical setting.

“I would recommend this program to any nurse just graduating from nursing school because it gives one an ability to have year-long preceptor-mentor experiences that you might not be able to get if you enter the workforce as soon as you graduate,” Boyrer says.

Faissal Siddiqui, MD, Designated Education Officer (DEO) for the VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System, says the program has been instrumental in the education and training of participating nurses.

“The (PB-RNR) program has worked like a bridge transitioning providers and nurses into the practical world with comfort, ease, valuable experience, and confidence,” Siddiqui says. “The VA has benefited from recruitment and retention of this talent.”

As the Interim Director of the MH-NPR program, Anamarie J. Lazo, DNP, FNP-BC, says she’d recommend the program for RNs making the challenging transition to NPs.

“Making the switch from being a nurse to being fully responsible for a patient’s care is a little difficult,” Lazo says.

The deadline to apply for the PB-RNR program is May 5. Applications for the MH-NPR program are due on April 28. Residents will be selected in June.

Topics: Alumni, Students