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Promoting Nurse Excellence: Bridging the Gap

This article first appeared in the 2020 Annual Update.

The Transition to Practice program keeps the best nurses at Vail Health.

The Transition to Practice (TTP) program bridges the gap between education and the professional nursing practice. Since March 2019, thanks to generous benefactors, the program has enabled recent nurse graduates to receive the training and support they need to excel and establish long-term careers at Vail Health.

“The nice aspect about this program, and really what the benefactor support provides, is the ability to utilize a predictive hiring strategy,” says Vail Health Quality Director Amy Lavigne. “Through partnering with leaders to examine nurse turnover at the department-level and evaluate competency data, the program can anticipate departmental needs and strategically hire nurses. This creates time and space for new graduate RNs to onboard in a safe and effective manner.”

Comprehensive Program Includes Support, Training, And Mentoring

Bridging the gap between education and practice is one of Vail Health’s highest priorities. Doing so addresses the nationwide nursing shortage and high turnover rate of new graduates.

“It’s about growing the professional nurse,” Amy explains. “We take a lot of pride and accountability in that because these nurses are going to be taking care of our community for the next 30 years.”

Vail Health’s 12-month TTP program includes:

  • Connecting “book knowledge” to the real-life nursing practice.
  • Enhancing their understanding of the broader health care system.
  • Providing a network for new graduate RNs to support and learn from one another.
  • Creating a formal process for onboarding and mentoring.

The program enables local nurses to stay in the Vail Valley and build rewarding, long-standing careers with Vail Health.

Unparalleled Experience For Nurse Residents

Nurse Jordan Levy, who moved from Denver to Vail in summer 2020, shares his experience: “When I think back to my time as a nurse resident, the most beneficial aspect was the leadership,” Jordan says. “Becoming a nurse was both stressful and rewarding, and I valued the safe space I had to share my thoughts, perspective, and views without repercussions or criticism.”

Nurse Susy Dozier adds, “The program gave me the tools I needed to be a good nurse. I’m currently working in the Patient Care Unit, which is where I started TTP two years ago, and I am really loving it.”

So far, the TTP program has hired and maintained eight new graduate RNs and has had a positive impact on the nursing culture at Vail Health.

“We are proud that we’re creating jobs for our local residents and in turn, building our nursing workforce with nurses who already live in our community,” Amy says.

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