SAN ANTONIO, Tex.—An innovative and robust nurse residency program that includes an evidence-based practice project, can impact oncology nursing practice and outcomes, according to a presentation at the ONS 41st Annual Congress.1

In 2011, the seminal publication The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health published recommendations for nursing practice, and although all relate in some way to oncology nursing practice, one stands out. “Recommendation 3: Implement nurse residency programs” can significantly influence this practice setting.

“Although every nurse completes a new hire orientation, they also complete a nurse residency program during their nonclinical hours,” reported Ashley Owoc, RN, BSN.

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At Lehigh Valley Health Network in Allentown, Pennsylvania, a nurse residency program was implemented that required nurse residents to complete an evidence-based practice project. The program also incorporated numerous innovations to minimize barriers.

“The nurse residency program addresses transition into practice difficulties, incorporates an evidence-based curriculum, and our nurse residents are mentored by a variety of individuals with different roles,” Owoc said. In comparison, orientation addresses clinical skills, incorporates a competency-based curriculum, and includes mentorship from a primary staff nurse.

In order to reduce cost expenditures associated with residencies, the administrators applied for and were awarded with a grant that garnered $1.4 million to sustain the residency for its first 3 years from inception. The organizers also formed a nurse residency program advisory board composed of bedside clinical nurses, educators, and managers, with the goal of selecting the nurse residency program provider and making decisions regarding its operations.

The third innovation was the robust nature of the evidence-based practice project. The in-depth didactic and interactive content was developed by a doctoral-prepared nurse and master’s-prepared nurses served as facilitators for each project.

A variety of metrics have demonstrated that turnover is improved and less than the national database. Further, nurse residents have completed 84 evidence-based practice projects and more than 60 projects are currently underway, leading to a wide range of practice changes.

In addition, participants of the nurse residency program have displayed posters and given oral presentations on their projects at regional and national conferences. Publications of their projects are also in process.

“Our nurse residency program also exceeds the benchmark in 7 of 9 categories regarding nurse resident satisfaction, resulting in significant improvements in nurse retention,” concluded copresenter Jennifer Lanter, RN, BSN, MGS.


1. Reimer N, Owoc A, Lanter J. Impacting oncology nursing practice and outcomes through an innovative robust nurse residency program. Oral presentation at: 2016 Oncology Nursing Society Annual Congress; April 28-May 1, 2016; San Antonio, TX.