Childrens Hospital Los Angeles Celebrates 10 Years of RN Residents

Childrens Hospital Los Angeles Celebrates 10 Years of RN Residents

Across the nation, hospitals are adopting the 22-week immersion program

By Beth Duggan
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On July 1, 1999, Childrens Hospital Los Angeles paved the way in the search for a solution to high new graduate turnover rates and a nationwide shortage of nurses. It’s answer: a pioneer program known then as the RN Internship in Pediatrics.

The 22-week clinical immersion program assigns a mentor and bedside preceptor to each resident, who spends 75 percent of the time in one-on-one training in a clinical setting, and 25 percent of the time in the classroom and skills labs.

“Treating acutely ill and injured children in a complex technological environment like Childrens Hospital can be overwhelming for a new graduate,” says Mary Dee Hacker, RN, MBA, chief nursing officer and VP of Patient Care Services. “By working under the guidance of experienced nurses and having the necessary support system, the transition from nursing student to professional becomes much smoother.”

The pilot program enrolled 30 nurses in its inaugural class and slashed first-year turnover rates by 30 percentage points, a success that carried over into three more Southern California hospitals and birthed aspirations for a nationwide initiative. The delivery came in May 2004 when CHLA formed Versant™, a nonprofit, public benefit corporation, and renamed the program Versant™ RN Residency in Pediatrics.

In the decade that has followed, 5,000 residents have graduated into 65 pediatric and adult hospitals across the U.S., including 614 at CHLA. As for the annual turnover rate, at participating hospitals it has declined dramatically from 28 percent to 6 percent.

That’s cause for a celebration.

On July 30, from 5am to 5pm, CHLA will play host to the merriment of the occasion, followed by a special dinner for the original staff, RN residents and supporters of the program.

“The 10-year anniversary festivities are truly a celebration of a team that is extremely passionate and focused on the mission of Childrens Hospital Los Angeles,” Ms. Hacker says. “Without excellent nurses — the backbone of any hospital — we don’t have a chance of providing excellent care.”

For more information on the Versant™ RN Residency in Pediatrics at CHLA, go to

The closest Beth Duggan has ever been to becoming a nurse was setting up a “hospital” on her parents’ back porch for her “injured” stuffed animals.

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