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Helping New Nurses Find Their Place

Pediatric Nursing

Rady Children’s Nursing bootcamp lets new pediatric nurses hone their skills and build community

Starting a new job can be tough, especially fresh out of school or after a career change. At Rady Children’s, nurses who are new to the profession, or just new to pediatrics, undergo an intensive, year-long training program, which helps them acclimate to the hospital environment, explore specialties or areas or interest and build camaraderie with other staff members.

Rady Children’s is committed to excellence in nursing and has been honored with the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s prestigious Magnet recognition for professionalism, teamwork and superiority in patient care. The nursing “bootcamp,” officially called the New Graduate Transition to Practice Program, is an extension of this and incorporates classroom, virtual and hands-on learning, one-on-one sessions with a preceptor and talks on resilience and wellness in the role. Sessions are held three times a year for cohorts of up to 50 nurses at a time.

“One of the key taglines is ‘Growing our own,’” says Kathleen Sweeney, PhD, Associate Chief Nursing Officer-Innovation. “We want to grow them from the Rady Children’s mindset and from the pediatric nursing lens and that’s what these programs allow us to do.”

Though Rady Children’s has roughly 2,000 nurses on staff, more are needed to fill gaps across the Hospital’s 12 specialty areas. Robust education programs, such as the Transition to Practice Program, can help with recruitment and retention by giving new nurses the opportunity to build their confidence and skills in a supportive environment. Since the program was reinstated post-pandemic, 96 new nurses have participated. As of April, 91 are still with Rady Children’s.

Sweeney says participants love the program because it’s so targeted, focused and hands-on. Learning in cohorts and breaking out into substantially smaller groups for more specialized training also build a sense of community. And the guidance from highly experienced educators with decades of experience and a passion for the profession shows new nurses what’s possible with time and training.

“We have built a pool of educators who bring such real-life experience. We have people who have been nurses for 30 years here who still want to teach our new people, which is so exciting,” she says.

Sweeney says one of her favorite parts of the job is meeting with new grads and seeing their excitement to be beginning their career at Rady Children’s.

“It’s so rewarding to me to see these young new nurses coming into the profession. I love meeting with them and seeing their growth— and as someone who loves my profession and loves pediatric nursing, that just is so amazing,” she says. “I’m so proud of our organization and our educators. Ultimately the goal is to provide amazing care for our patients and families, and that’s why we do this.”

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