Bridging the Gap: Help Nurses’ Transition Into Practice

BY: American Nurses Association

Every nurse transitioning between practice settings and roles needs time and support to be successful. The transition from academia to practice can be challenging. Bridging the gap through transition to practice programs, whether residency or fellowship for Registered Nurses (RNs) and Advance Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs), has been proven to increase confidence and competence in nurses who are transitioning between settings and roles.

In a recent column in NursingCenter eNews, Sheri Cosme, DNP, RN-BC, Director Practice Transition Accreditation Program® (PTAP) and Nursing Skills Competency Program at the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), details the value of transition to practice programs (i.e. residency or fellowships) and current discussion around the issue around transition to practice.Both RNs and APRNs can benefit from such programs. Cosme calls for the profession to embrace and offer the same support system for RNs and APRNs moving into clinical settings or between different clinical settings through accredited transition to practice programs. The full article can be read here.

In an environment of new technologies, unfamiliar new workplaces, and the pressure of a highly acute patient populations, nurses must be supported with adequate preparation and guidance. Other healthcare professions such as medicine and pharmacy depend on accredited residency and fellowship programs. Why can’t nursing do the same and raise the bar and accredit transition to practice programs?

ANCC’s Practice Transition Accreditation Program® (PTAP) offers an evidence-based roadmap to managing this issue. The ANCC launched PTAP in 2014. This program has quickly become the global standard for transition to practice programs that transition RNs and APRNs into new practice settings with 117 accredited programs in 458 health care settings (as of September 24, 2019). ANCC accredits three types of transition to practice programs for types of all practice settings. PTAP accreditation also helps satisfy a Magnet® standard, Structural Empowerment 9.

ANCC’s PTAP accreditation features:

  • A peer review process
  • Integration of national competencies
  • Evidence-based criteria
  • Meets the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) Future of Nursing 2010 recommendation #3
  • A framework for transitioning RNs and APRNs

PTAP offers free resources and guidance for creating and evaluating nurse residency and fellowship programs that are available here.

To determine whether your program is ready for accreditation you can perform a self-assessment. A gap analysis tool helps show how well your program aligns with the ANCC PTAP criteria and identifies areas where you can adjust or improve. Download PTAP’s free assessment worksheet to see where your program aligns with ANCC criteria.

  1. Sheryl Cosme. “Residency and Fellowship Programs for RNs and Advanced Practice RNs.” Journal of Nursing Administration 45, no. 9 (2015): 416-417. doi:10.1097/NNA.0000000000000224.

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