UTEP Hosts First UMC Nurse Residency Graduation

Last Updated on March 27, 2015 at 3:57 pm

Originally published March 20, 2015

By Laura L. Acosta

UTEP News Service

A new nurse residency program at University Medical Center that helps recent graduate nurses assimilate to their new roles as professional registered nurses graduated its first cohort at The University of Texas at El Paso on Tuesday, March 17.

The celebration in the Health Sciences and Nursing Building recognized 20 new nurses, including 12 graduates from the UTEP School of Nursing.

Alfredo Madrid and Daniela Rodriguez recently graduated from University Medical Center’s new nurse residency program. The graduation was celebrated at UTEP on March 17. Photo by Laura Trejo / UTEP News Service

Alfredo Madrid and Daniela Rodriguez recently graduated from University Medical Center’s new nurse residency program. The graduation was celebrated at UTEP on March 17. Photo by Laura Trejo / UTEP News Service

“Nurses residency programs support the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s recommendations in (the Institute of Medicine’s report) ‘The Future of Nursing’ across the United States,” said School of Nursing Dean Elias Provencio-Vasquez, Ph.D. “University Medical Center is progressive and innovative for creating this type of program and supporting the transition of new graduate staff nurses to the real world of health care. This type of training will promote high quality and competent nursing care for our community.”

The one-year nurse residency program is designed for newly licensed nurses employed at University Medical Center (UMC) who graduated from a baccalaureate nursing program and have less than six months of nursing experience. The first cohort also included four graduates from Texas Tech’s Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing, three from New Mexico State University’s School of Nursing and one from the University of Florida College of Nursing.

The new nurses participated in weekly classes that supplemented their clinical orientation. Participants developed a portfolio to document their professional development throughout their career. They also attended presentations given by nursing professionals, educators and doctors. Each new nurse also was involved in an evidence-based project that will be implemented in their unit.

“Doctors go through a residency period and we need to make sure that we give the same type of benefits to our (new) nurses,” said Lorrie Giessel, director of Nursing Support Services at UMC, who developed the program. “We help them, mold them, mentor them and retain them.”

As part of the celebration, the new nurses participated in a poster presentation where they displayed their evidence-based projects on hospital-related issues, such as reducing falls, using ultrasound to gain intravenous access and preventing sepsis in patients.

“We’re very supportive of this initiative because it’s applying research into practice,” said Joe Garcia, DNP, UMC’s chief nursing officer. Garcia earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing from UTEP. “When you do that, you have excellent patient outcomes.”

A project by nurses Daniela Rodriguez and Alfredo Madrid significantly reduced patient falls in the hospital’s telemetry unit.

Rodriguez and Madrid developed a protocol for nurses to follow using the Conley fall risk assessment tool. Nurses use the tool to determine a patient’s risk of falling in the telemetry unit. The new nurses developed a color-coded scoring system to determine a patient’s fall risk based on his or her answers to questions that include whether or not a patient has fallen in the last three months or if a patient has experienced episodes of dizziness or vertigo.

Patients with a Conley assessment score between 2 and 4 were low risk and a picture of green socks was placed on their hospital room door. Patients with a score between 5 and 7 were considered a moderate fall risk and their door had a picture of yellow socks. A score between 8 and 10 was considered high risk and the patient’s door was labeled with a picture of red socks.

“In our research, we read that color-coding is a quicker way to help people identify something,” Rodriguez said. “The colors that we chose are internationally recognized. Like red, for example, is high risk, green is low risk and yellow is moderate risk.”

Rodriguez graduated from UTEP in 2013 with her degree in nursing. She is a nurse in UMC’s cardiovascular intensive care unit. Rodriguez said her undergraduate education came in handy when she was working on her evidence-based project.

“For the last three semesters of the (nursing) program, there was always an evidence paper that we had to write,” Rodriguez said. “That experience really helped when it came to using databases and citing sources for our project.”

UMC will have two nurse residency cohorts a year. The second cohort of 15 new nurses will graduate in September. A third cohort with 23 nurses will start the week of March 23.

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