Meeting the Gold Standard: The Impact of CVPH's New Nurse Residency

Achievement Recognizes Excellence in Supporting New Nurses

When Emily Estus, RN came to CVPH in November 2020, the winter holiday wave of COVID-19 cases in our region- and across the country -was ramping up. She admitted she was nervous about starting her nursing career in the middle of a pandemic. Now, Emily credits her time in the CVPH New Nurse Residency with turning her concern into confidence.

“It was just a great experience. It’s definitely something that made the transition to my new career less stressful,” Emily noted.

And there’s confidence at the national level too, with the program recently re-accredited in the Medical-Surgical and Progressive Care areas by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) as a Practice Transition Program (PTAP). The residency has also received a new area of PTAP accreditation in Psychiatry for nurses transitioning into practice in this specialty.


“This is a recognition and acknowledgement that our entire organization can take pride in,” CVPH Chief Nursing Officer Carrie Howard-Canning, MSN, MBA, RN offered. “PTAP accreditation is the gold standard for nurse residency programs around the world. It highlights our dedication to ensuring our new nurses have the support they need as they transition from school to the bedside.”

“We strive for accreditation because those standards set by the ANCC are the right things to do for our patients and our people,” CVPH New Nurse Residency Program Manager Abby Bennett, MSN, RN, CWOCN, NPD-BC explained. “We know that by meeting those standards, our new nurses are going to feel supported and confident. They’re going to have the tools and experiences necessary to provide excellent care. And it prepares them for what we hope will be a long, fulfilling and successful career with us here at the hospital.”

Kenna Johnson, RN practices
inserting an IV during a Nurse
Residency session.

The residency program, which began at the hospital in 2013, has graduated 353 nurses. In 2018, the residency was first accredited by the ANCC, becoming the 59th accredited program in the United States and the second residency to receive accreditation in New York State at the time. It has been designed based on the needs and feedback of the Graduate Nurses, so the program does adapt from year-to-year. They go through a total of 40 hours of curriculum over the course of a year, generally starting in the summer shortly after their employment begins at the hospital. The residency sessions give nurses a chance to enhance their clinical skills, participate in educational team-building exercises and learn about professional development opportunities within the organization. They also gain opportunities for interprofessional collaboration, with team members from specialties and services like the inpatient and outpatient pharmacies, Occupational Health and Wellness and Respiratory Therapy spending time with the group. Additionally, nurses get time with administration to share their ideas and offer feedback about their CVPH experience.

“I’m always amazed by the organizational support we get. It’s incredible to see how many people are invested in making the program successful,” Abby said. “There are so many outside of nursing that impact these nurses and their success here.”


Mentorship and support are two of the key cogs that keep the residency running as smoothly as possible. A crucial part of that is the role the Preceptors play as they work with the new nurses. Preceptors are veteran nurses who show new nurses the ropes, taking them under their wings and offering tips and tricks to help them grow professionally. The Preceptor is also someone the new nurses can rely on for help when needed and to answer any questions they have during each shift.

Emily’s preceptor was Paige Garnot, BSN, RN, and Paige left such a lasting impression on Emily that she nominated her preceptor for a DAISY Award earlier this year.

“I truly feel I wouldn’t be as successful at the beginning of my career without her. She believed in me before I believed in myself. No matter how nervous I was about the day, she always told me to breathe. Paige made me feel like I could conquer whatever the day brought us,” Emily wrote in her nomination letter about Paige.

That connection early in Emily’s career has grown since then.

“It’s gone from Preceptor to friend,” she said. “And that’s helped me build more relationships at the job. So starting with that one person, Paige, and learning from her who I can go to regardless of what floor I’m working on is really helpful. And learning from her that it’s ok to ask questions and it’s ok to ask for help when I need it. That’s so important early on.”

Emily continued on, saying that while she knew this was the right job for her, she still had plenty of doubt in the beginning.

Nurses take part in a team building
exercise during a Preceptor training

“Am I prepared for this? Am I smart enough for this? Am I good enough at my job? Will I say the wrong thing to a patient or not know how to explain something. Paige, as my preceptor, was actually one of many people here who gave me the confidence boost I needed.”

“And that’s really the culture of the units in general,” Abby pointed out. “You can go up to the floors and ask anyone anything, and they’re going to try to help you make the right decision. It’s important that the nurse residents feel supported by their peers. If they don’t feel like the people that they’re working with have their back, then it’s kind of hard to want to come to work every day. So that support they’re given is huge.”

To become a Preceptor, a nurse must meet certain criteria and are evaluated by their Clinical Education Manager and their unit leader to make sure they are a good fit. Preceptors also attend classes with a Clinical Education Manager that are geared toward helping them enhance their teaching skills and recognize the different ways staff members might best learn from them.

“Our CVPH Preceptors are really high caliber, and they’re clearly making a huge difference with most of our new nurses,” Abby replied. “It helps that many of our Preceptors were residents themselves, so they know what it’s like.”


Abby believes that the mechanisms already in place and the ability to adapt helped the residency continue to thrive even in the face of the pandemic.

“The new nurses have been incredibly flexible and resilient, especially the last two groups that have come to us. They went to school and graduated during a pandemic. They didn’t have a normal nursing school experience, because they couldn’t with the way the world was. And they still came here wanting to learn. I just can’t imagine entering the nursing career like they have had to,” she noted.

Emily, who graduated from Clinton Community College’s Nursing Program, was one of several new nurses who wanted to switch out virtual presentations in favor of more clinical time to strengthen their skills. That feedback led to a direct change in the program, with Abby stating that the goal is to always give residents the curriculum that best supports and addresses their needs.


The current accreditation will last through 2025 – and Abby is already looking ahead to what’s next. Goals include expanding the residency to new areas and specialties for nurses joining the hospital and publishing their best practices with the ANCC. One of the benefits of the process is gaining access to nurse residencies around the world that have also been accredited by the ANCC. Abby heralded the access is a great opportunity to share ideas and best practices to further improve the curriculum that is offered at CVPH.

As for Emily, she is grateful that she had a chance to take part in the residency and is reminded on a regular basis that she indeed made the right choice to become a registered nurse at the hospital.

“There was a patient on Progressive Care that had COVID and he suffered through it pretty hard,” Emily recalled. “I was with him on nights, and then I switched to days and would still see him. He looked at me and said, ‘This all feels like a bad dream, but you’re helping me and you’re making it better.’ And hearing that just makes all the stress, all the anxiety, everything that you’re going through that day a hundred times better. And you realize, okay, this is why I’m here. It just makes everything worth it.”

Learn more about the program by visiting the New Nurse Residency website.