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First Nurse Resident Cohort Graduates from SLVH

On May 9, 2019, the first cohort of nurse residents graduated from a new program at San Luis Valley Health’s Regional Medical Center. SLV Health is currently the only rural facility in Colorado to offer a Nurse Residency Program. The goal of the program is to increase nursing competency and confidence. The program bridges the gap between academic education and hands-on practice. The very first participants commented positively about the program as they also demonstrated their knowledge in a presentation to the attendees at the reception about treating wounds, entitled "Pressure Injuries and Skin Breakdown."

first cohort graduates

Nurse Educator Director Dawn Weed (L) celebrates the completion of the First Cohort of Nurse Residents at San Luis Valley Health. L to R: Yestly Gutierrez, McKenzie Sowards, Krista Archuleta, Estelle Sandoval, & Alyissa Torres. Congratulating the team is SLVH CEO Konnie Martin (R).

More about the Program

A nurse resident will start in a cohort and spend a mix of time in simulation labs, “on the floor,” and in a classroom setting. A new policy at SLV Health is that all nurses who apply for an open nursing position without any experience will automatically be enrolled in the program. A nurse resident in the program can start as a paid intern without a license during their last 3 months of the senior year or as a new graduate RN. When the intern nurse then passes their boards and obtains licensure, they may be able to move into a paid RN position. Nurses sign a two-year commitment from the start of the program, through graduation and then as an employee.

This “blended learning” is part of a growing practice across the United States where students learn online, in class, and while practicing critical skills. Reflective practice and competency assessment are also utilized to build confidence and knowledge and allow for individuals to consistently “reflect” on experiences. The program allows nurse residents to compare themselves to benchmarks, integrate best practices and grow. As Dawn Weed, BSN, RN-BC, Professional Development Specialist at SLV Health explains, “The data speaks for itself in how successful this program has been in only six months. There is a huge increase in new nurses passing their competencies, growing their confidence, and staying in the field.”

Nina Crawford, Nurse Manager of Acute Care at SLV Health added, “This is the best group of new nurses we have ever had. The nurse residents love this program.” The Preceptor Training curriculum has allowed our current staff to become better teachers and mentors. “We are the safe person for the resident to ask when they aren’t sure of something,” commented Crawford. SLV Health is now working towards becoming a Nationally Certified Nurse Residency Program and is working closely with Adams State, TSJC and other educational institutions to assist with strengths and weakness in future nursing graduates’ confidence, knowledge, and competency.


welcome to nurse residency graduation first cohort

waiting for the ceremony to start

Checking out the new simulation model at SLVH