MILWAUKEE — The Marquette University College of Nursing has received a three-year, $1,033,118 grant to develop an evidence-based nurse residency program for new, rural nurses in Wisconsin, Illinois and Idaho.
Marilyn Meyer Bratt, assistant professor of nursing at Marquette, serves as the primary investigator of the grant, which was awarded by the Division of Nursing in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The project, “SOAR-RN: Supporting Onboarding And Retention of Rural Nurses,” will benefit new nurses’ transition to practice and retention in rural hospitals through an alliance of rural-based health care systems or collaborative networks and academic organizations. By training experienced nurses to serve as preceptors and mentors, as well as developing a rural nurse residency curriculum consisting of monthly seminars, the program is expected to improve patient care and help create positive work environments that lead to quality care, according to Bratt. The Marquette University College of Nursing will collaborate with the Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network, Ministry Health Care in Wisconsin, and Rural Connection in Idaho and partner with Boise State University and Mennonite College of Nursing at Illinois State University.
“Rural hospitals pose unique challenges for new nurses because the hospitals tend to be resource poor and typically lack formal staff development systems to oversee the orientation process and provide longer-term guidance to support new nurses,” said Bratt, noting that in rural areas new nurse turnover can reach 50 percent. “Due to the limited number of new nurses hired at one time, the ability of small, rural hospitals to provide a structured transitioning program is cost-prohibitive.” The SOAR-RN academic and clinical partnerships in each state will make transition to professional practice for new rural nurses more cost-effective, she said.
The SOAR-RN project builds on programming developed through the Wisconsin Nurse Residency Program project also administered by Bratt. That nearly $2 million HRSA-funded project was awarded in 2004 to help new nursing graduates manage the steep learning curve and build clinical competency throughout the first year of practice. Over seven years, almost 1,700 new graduates have completed the program. The average retention rate for participating organizations is 82 percent, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars in nurse replacement cost-savings.
Bratt holds a Ph.D. in nursing from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, master of science in nursing from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and bachelor of science in nursing from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network is located in Princeton, Ill., and has 51 member hospitals, which is 25 percent of the state’s hospitals. Member hospitals are located throughout Illinois and have no more than 25 beds each.
Ministry Health Care is a network of hospitals, clinics and other health organizations operating across central and northern Wisconsin and eastern Minnesota. There are 15 hospitals within Ministry, with the majority in rural areas and six designated as critical access hospitals.
Rural Connection is a nonprofit consortium of nurse leaders based in Boise, Idaho, that advocates for collaborative partnerships to promote quality patient care. The network is composed of rural and urban hospitals and Boise State University.
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