Helping Our Nurses Thrive

Helping Our Nurses Thrive

“Patients at Guthrie know that when their nurse comes, they have somebody who they can trust, who they can rely on, who’s going to be there to support them, and who’s well-prepared to do their job,” – Sally Bennett, Director of Nursing Professional Development at Guthrie

“Trusted” is the first word that comes to mind when Sally Bennett, PhD, RN-BC, thinks about Guthrie nurses.

As Director of Nursing Professional Development at Guthrie, Bennett knows that earning that trust involves an awe-inspiring amount of passion, dedication, and hard work on the part of Guthrie’s nurses. Guthrie celebrates our nurses for that hard work every May, during National Nurses Week, and supports them all year long by providing them with evidence-based training and education.

“We are committed to providing our patients with care that is based in science, so we are also committed to providing our nurses with educational opportunities that are based in science,” Bennett says.

The most recent example of those educational opportunities is Guthrie’s Newly Licensed Registered Nurse Residency program.

Newly Licensed Registered Nurse Residency Program

The transition from student nurse to professional nurse is a difficult one. Research shows that registered nurses’ stress and anxiety increase after graduation and peak at nine months of practice, “so it’s really important that in their first year they have a safe place to practice, to learn more, and to lean on their peer group,” Bennett says.

To help with this transition, in 2016 Guthrie created the Newly Licensed Registered Nurse Residency program. Like everything Guthrie does, the program is evidence-based and grounded in science, she says. Rather than assign newly licensed registered nurses to one unit, this program, which will exist at all five Guthrie hospitals starting in July, gives participants 12 weeks to explore nursing at two or three different units. This provides them with a diverse set of skills and helps them learn what type of nursing they enjoy most and excel at prior to being assigned to one unit.

“It really helps them explore nursing and understand where their fit is,” Bennett says. “I feel really confident that we are getting our nurses’ placement right.”

The program also helps forge bonds between new nurses and veteran nurses and between nurses working on different units, and it encourages everyone at Guthrie to work as a team. Every four to six weeks, all of the nurses are brought together to take part in educational simulations, work on evidence-based practice projects, and connect with each other.

“We’re giving our new nurses the opportunity to practice their skills, to ask questions, and to simulate real care,” she says.

The 10- to 11-month program is offered three times throughout the year. At their graduation, the nurses share their completed evidence-based practice projects and they are celebrated for completing their first year as registered nurses. More than 85 nurses have completed the program since it began.

“It’s a huge accomplishment. We are proud of every single one of them,” Bennett says, noting that the participants grow so much from the beginning of the program to the end. “They become more confident and they begin to understand the profession of nursing as more than just the clinical tasks that are required. They start to see the big picture.”

Supporting Nursing at Guthrie

Bennett calls the nurses in the Newly Registered Nurse Residency program “the future of Guthrie.” And that future is bright, due in large part to Guthrie donors, who make it possible for Guthrie to provide all of its nurses with the best education, tools, and equipment available.

“Support from donors helps us to elevate the opportunities for these nurses so they can live our Guthrie values,” she says.

Learn more about donating to the Newly Registered Nurse Residency program, Guthrie nursing scholarships, and more at our website or by contacting Guthrie Resource Development at or 570-887-4420.