VA mental health nurse residency program wins approval

The Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center has been named one of four facilities in the country that has been approved as a site for the VA Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (MHNP) Residency Program. This is a pilot program with funding planned over three years for 10 residencies with up to three residents per site.

Residency programs ensure a supervised transition to autonomous and competent clinical practice. Historically, accredited residencies have been funded for medicine, dentistry, psychology, pharmacy and other clinical professions, but not for nurse practitioners. A survey of graduate nurse practitioners reported that only 10 percent of 562 respondents perceived they were well prepared for practice following their graduate education, while 51 percent reported they were only somewhat or minimally prepared (Hart, 2004). Flinter (2011) states that despite the rigorous clinical hours required for all nurse practitioner educational programs, there is insufficient clinical experiential education to begin practice with confidence and mastery. Pilot nurse practitioner residency programs have reported residency programs are successful in bridging the transition from new NP to confident and competent primary care provider (Flinter, 2011).

In addition to MUSC, the approved partnering schools are University of Alabama at Birmingham, Boston College, and Duke University.