Updated June 29 at 8:37pm

Stepping Up program off to a strong start

Stepping Up, Rhode Island’s innovative nursing residency program in its inaugural year, is beginning to get national attention.

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Stepping Up program off to a strong start

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Stepping Up, Rhode Island’s innovative nursing residency program in its inaugural year, is beginning to get national attention.

“People from around the country have been sending inquiries about the program through the Center to Champion Nursing in America in Washington, DC,” said Sandra Phillips of Kent Hospital. Phillips handles much of the program’s day-to-day operations.

Program participants spend 16 hours a week in clinical training, at a wide variety of Rhode Island health care facilities, and 8 hours a week receiving didactic training from an expert in a given discipline, according to Phillips.

Co-founded by Rick Brooks, now the executive director of the Governor’s Workforce Board Rhode Island and longtime executive director of the United Nurses and Allied Professionals, Stepping Up trains unemployed and underemployed nurses and new nurse graduates.

“It’s going extremely well,” said Brooks. “This is a completely new concept. It’s something that was generated on the national level in the nursing community, but it’s really being put to the test here.

“From our perspective, from the Governor’s Workforce perspective, this was one of 10 innovation partnership grants that we created last spring. All of them had some common elements, they all involved partnerships between businesses and education providers. They all targeted underemployed or unemployed folks, and they all provided experiential learning.”

The program started in October with 18 participants, two of whom have found full employment already, leaving a cohort of 16 continuing.

“Because this is not facility based, it is a very unique type of residency,” said Phillips. “We identified that recent nursing school graduates were not getting jobs. We felt if we could get them additional experience, they might have an advantage in a tight job market.”

Grants for the program were obtained from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Governor’s Workforce Board.

Stepping Up, Rick Brooks,

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