Implementation and evaluation of a mental health nursing residency program

Barb Pizzingrilli, Derek Christensen


Objective: The Niagara Health System opened a new healthcare facility in 2013 with expansion of the Mental Health and Addictions Program. As part of operational readiness planning, the decision was made to implement a 12-week residency program to support a cohort of ten new nursing staff in attaining the knowledge, confidence, and recovery attitudes required for practice. This paper will detail the planning and implementation of a Mental Health Nursing Residency Program at the Niagara Health System. The outcomes of the residency program will be discussed as well as the challenges that will inform recommendations for future programming. There is a paucity of literature related to mental health specific residency programs, and this paper will add to the work that has already been done in this specialty area of practice.

Methods: Ten nurses new to mental health participated in the 12-week residency program. The program was evaluated using pre and post measures of knowledge, confidence, and recovery attitudes at the beginning and end of the residency program. Retention rates were also examined for the cohort of new staff. Results were obtained from eight of the ten participants for data analysis. Descriptive statistics were used to describe the sample, recovery attitudes, and retention. Knowledge and confidence data were analyzed using paired t-tests.

Results: Statistically significant improvements occurred in knowledge and confidence. Recovery attitudes also improved but retention of staff who participated in the residency program was not enhanced.

Conclusions: A residency program can be an effective strategy to ensure that nurses new to the field of mental health and addictions have the requisite competencies for practice.

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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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