10 Best Nurse Residency Programs

10 Min Read Published September 21, 2023
10 Best Nurse Residency Programs

If you're a new grad nurse (or about to be), you may have heard about nurse residency programs. Undoubtedly, you have a few questions about these programs and whether they're right for you. 

Whether you're considering starting your career with a nurse residency program or want to learn more about them, you're in the right place. This article answers common questions about RN residencies and explores top programs to find the best nurse residency programs near you.

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What Is a Nurse Residency Program?

A nurse residency program is a one to two-year educational and professional development program for new grad nurses. RN residency programs support new nurses as they transition from nursing school to clinical practice. They can give you the knowledge, skills, and confidence you need to deliver safe, high-quality patient care.

Hospitals or health systems typically sponsor new grad RN residency programs, but nursing schools may also offer them. Many programs include both classroom and experiential learning components, as well as mentorship and support from experienced nurses.

Upon completion of a nurse residency program, you'll be prepared to take on the challenges of clinical practice.

Top Nursing Residency Programs

1. Mayo Clinic (Arizona, Florida, Minnesota)

Program Length: 1 year

Program Overview: The program offers new grad residents various online activities, learning modules, live seminars, and interactive discussion boards led by experts.

What Makes This a Top Program? U.S. News & World Report (2021-2022) ranked Mayo Clinic as “the nation's best hospital.” Mayo Clinic also ranked #1 in more specialties than any other healthcare organization, and they have several nursing interest areas. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Practice Transition Program accredits Mayo Clinic's nurse residency program in Rochester, MN, with distinction as an Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Program.

How to Apply: To apply for a residency program with the Mayo Clinic, click here and search for “Nurse Residency.”

2. Cleveland Clinic Nurse Residency Program (Florida, Ohio, Nevada)

Program Length: 1 year

Program Overview: The program starts with a 10 to 12-week core orientation phase followed by ten residency days spaced out over the year. Program content is simulation-based and focuses on developing nursing competencies for successful practice. Nurse residents will build their patient communication and critical judgment skills and receive professional development opportunities.

What Makes This a Top Program? In 2020, Cleveland Clinic’s Nurse Residency program achieved accreditation with distinction from the ANCC. The US Department of Labor also designated this program as an Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Program.

How to Apply: To apply for this residency program, go to Cleveland Clinic’s careers page and search “Registered Nurse.”

3. Johns Hopkins Medicine - Columbia, MD

Program Length: 1 year

Program Overview: The nurse residency program at Johns Hopkins includes content that supports resident nurses' abilities. These competencies include:

  • Providing patient-centered care
  • Applying quality improvement principles
  • Working in interprofessional teams
  • Incorporating evidence-based practice
  • Using informatics in nursing practice
  • Applying basic safety principles

New nurse RNS also attend professional development seminars covering leadership, quality outcomes, and the professional nursing role.

What Makes This a Top Program? When hired, Johns Hopkins automatically enrolls new graduate RNs into the nurse residency program. Hopkins also uses the Vizient/AACN Nurse Residency Program curriculum to help new nurses transition from students to professionals. Additionally, this program received accreditation with distinction from the ANCC in 2019.

Hopkins also has a solid commitment to diversity and inclusion. It partners with local recruiters to hire those with employment barriers, like people with disabilities or veterans.

How to Apply: Johns Hopkins posts one common nursing residency application 2-3 months before each cohort. You can apply for the residency online via the Howard County General Hospital’s careers page.

4. NYU Langone Medical Center - New York, NY

Program Length: 1 year

Program Overview: Following the Vizient/AACN curriculum, NYU Langone's 1-year residency offers diverse learning activities to new nurses. These tasks include clinically specific education programs, professional development seminars, and clinical observation experiences. RN residents receive clinical support and mentorship as they work with a nursing team to develop their nursing skills and confidence.

What Makes This a Top Program? NYU Langone Medical Center is a highly regarded U.S. medical health center with magnet recognition. Based on the Vizient/AACN curriculum, the Commission for Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) also accredits this program. These high standards make it one of the best nurse residency programs nationwide.

How to Apply: New BSN graduates can learn more and apply here.

5. Penn Medicine – Philadelphia, PA

Program Length: 1 year

Program Overview: Available at seven hospitals and healthcare centers, the Penn Medicine Nurse Residency Program combines work and learning experiences to prepare new nurses for professional success. Using the Vizeint/AACN curriculum, the competencies this program emphasizes include:

  • Communication
  • Critical thinking
  • Evidence-based practice
  • Patient safety and risk reduction
  • Patient and family-centered care
  • Leadership
  • Professional development

What Makes This a Top Program? When hired, Penn Medicine automatically enrolls all eligible new nurses with six or fewer months of experience into the residency program. Penn's RN residency also offers nurses full salaries, substantial benefits packages, and direction and support from faculty and dedicated preceptors. The program is CCNE-accredited, and all Penn Medicine facilities have magnet status.

How to Apply: You can find current RN positions for new graduate nurses at this link.

6. Hospital for Special Surgery (HHS) – New York, NY

Program Length: 16 weeks - 1 year (depending on the program)

Program Overview: HHS has three different nurse residency programs. The Inpatient and Post-Anesthesia Care and Step Down Unit Programs are for new RNs without hospital experience. The Perioperative Program is for both new and experienced RNs who’d like to work in orthopedic services like:

  • Total arthroplasty
  • Spine
  • Sports
  • Trauma/limb lengthening
  • Hand and foot

What Makes This a Top Program? US News & World Report has ranked HHS as the best orthopedic hospital in the country for 14 consecutive years. It also ranked HHS number 2 in rheumatology nationwide.

Additionally, HHS is the only New York state hospital to receive ANCC magnet recognition five years in a row. It also earned recognition as an LGBTQ+ healthcare equity leader.

How to Apply: See this link to learn more about these three nurse residency programs and to apply.

7. New York-Presbyterian Hospital – New York, NY

Program Length: 1 year

Program Overview: The program uses monthly learning sessions to promote professional networking and nursing support. Nurse residents also write professional reflections, which allows them to share experiences with their peers and seek support. The curriculum emphasizes leadership, patient outcomes, and nurses' professional responsibilities to enable residents to become leaders at the bedside.

What Makes This a Top Program? This nurse residency is mandatory for all new graduate RNs hired to work clinically at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. In addition to having magnet designation, the ANCC's Commission on Accreditation in Practice Transition Programs accredits this program with distinction.

How to Apply: You can search for nursing jobs with a residency component at New York-Presbyterian Hospital here.

8. Emory Healthcare – Atlanta, GA

Program Length: 1 year

Program Overview: Emory Healthcare's nursing residents attend monthly sessions as part of the year-long program based on the Vizient/AACN curriculum. This residency fosters communication skills, professional competence, leadership abilities, self-confidence as a nurse, and lower stress levels in new nurses.

What Makes This a Top Program? Emory Healthcare is the largest healthcare network in Georgia. It is a reputable academic health center with nine hospitals with Magnet designation and several ambulatory care sites. 

Emory offers the CCNE-accredited program to new graduate nurses in all hospital and ambulatory care locations. In addition, recent graduates may select from nine nursing specialties, including emergency, critical care, and women’s services.

How to Apply: New graduate nurse positions are available year-round at all Emory hospitals, and nurses enter one of three nursing residency programs when hired.

9. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) – Atlanta, GA

Program Length: 1 year

Program Overview: The CHOA Pediatric Nurse Residency Program provides extensive training and support to new grad nurses who want to work in pediatrics. It includes hands-on clinical training early on to build bedside confidence alongside simulations and system-level, specialty-specific classes. Residents also experience bedside orientation with experienced preceptors and other new graduate nurses for support.

What Makes This a Top Program? Nurses interested in CHOA's program can choose from three options, making it one of the most diverse residencies on this list. Additionally, U.S. News & World Report ranked CHOA among the nation's top pediatric hospitals for 2022-2023. Fortune also recognized CHOA on its “The 100 Best Companies to Work For” list.

How to Apply: To apply for a residency at CHOA, go to the nursing careers page and search for a nurse residency program.

10. University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center (UHCMC) – Cleveland, OH

Program Length: 15 months

Program Overview: New nurse residents participate in various learning activities in this program designed to facilitate a successful transition from student to professional. In addition to mentoring, clinical support, and peer group discussions, residents have day-long sessions each month. These sessions foster leadership skills, professional competencies, and patient outcomes while benchmarking quality indicators. 

Nurse residents also develop and implement evidence-based patient-centered practice projects that promote high-quality patient care.

What Makes This a Top Program? UHCMC is one of the few nurse residency programs to offer new nurse graduates 15 months of residency training. U.S. News & World Report has also identified UHCMC as one of the Best Hospitals for 2022-2023.

In addition, less than 4% of all U.S. hospitals in 2022-2023 were highly ranked in one or more specialty areas. UHCMC’s multiple rankings in more than one specialty make it one of the country’s best hospitals.

How to Apply: New graduates can search for career opportunities at UHCMC that include support in the Nurse Residency Program here.

Benefits of New Grad Nurse Residency Programs

A nurse residency program is a great way to ease the transition from student to professional nurse. You'll receive mentorship and guidance from experienced professionals and additional training in your specialty throughout your new nurse residency. These benefits are even more important for specialties not focused on in nursing school, like neonatal intensive care nursing.

Your residency can also teach you to manage time, prioritize patient care, and navigate hospital politics. These programs also provide excellent networking opportunities, as you'll work closely with experienced nurses who can give you support and advice.

What Is the Goal of a Nurse Residency Program?

A nurse residency program aims to help new grad nurses make the leap from student to RN. New RNs in residencies gain the knowledge, skills, and confidence needed to work as competent nurses. These programs allow you to receive ongoing education and mentorship as you apply your nursing skills in real-world settings.

Nurse residency programs also prepare new nurses for professional nursing challenges while offering a network of support from experienced RNs. This support can be invaluable as you navigate the demands of a new nursing career.

Nurse residency programs provide the foundation new RNs need to succeed by combining classroom instruction, clinical rotations, and mentorship.

Are Nursing Residency Programs Worth It?

Deciding whether or not to enroll in a nursing residency program can be confusing for new grad nurses. 


On the one hand, nurse residencies provide an opportunity to receive additional training and support as new grads transition into the workforce. In addition, many residency programs offer competitive salaries and benefits. 


However, residencies can also be demanding, and some new grads may feel overwhelmed by these programs. Additionally, others will feel that it is merely an extension of their undergraduate experience.

Ultimately, deciding whether to enroll in a nurse residency program depends on your needs and goals. You may want to enroll in a nursing residency if you think you'll benefit from additional support and training. If you want a more immediate career start, you can skip the residency and work as a staff nurse after graduation.

Are Nurse Residencies Competitive?

Some nurse residency programs are very competitive to get into. Many hospitals only have a limited number of positions available, and there are often more qualified applicants than available spots. On top of this, most hospitals only offer nurse residency programs during specific times of the year.

You should put your best foot forward to increase your chances of getting into a nurse residency program. 

  1. Start by researching and selecting a program that's a good fit for you. 
  2. Then, complete your application carefully and include all the required information. 
  3. Finally, remember to follow up and contact the program director to express your interest in the program.

How Long Are Most Nurse Residency Programs?

Nurse residency programs typically last for 12 months, although some are longer. 

During this time, participants receive intensive training on several topics, including patient care, communication, and time management. At the end of the program, you'll be able to provide high-quality care to patients in your nursing specialty confidently.

How Much Do Nurse Residency Programs Pay?

Most nurse residency programs pay a comparable salary to that of entry-level nurses. The exact compensation will vary depending on the program and location. However, many nurse residency programs offer a starting salary of approximately $50,000 annually. 

In addition, nurse residents often receive benefits such as health insurance and paid time off (PTO). For a new graduate RN, a residency is an excellent way to gain experience while earning a competitive salary and benefits.

Next Steps

Nurse residency programs are excellent for new graduate nurses who want to ease the transition from school to clinical practice. As a nurse resident, you’ll be able to improve your nursing skills with support from peers and experienced preceptors. However, these programs are not necessary - you can begin working as an RN without a residency at many hospitals. 

Whether you attend one of these programs depends entirely on your needs. So, take your time, weigh your options, and choose to start your career in a way that feels right for you. If you’re interested in nursing jobs near you, check out the Nurse.org job board.

Leona Werezak
Leona Werezak
Nurse.org Contributor

Leona Werezak BSN, MN, RN is the Director of Business Development at NCLEX Education. She began her nursing career in a small rural hospital in northern Canada where she worked as a new staff nurse doing everything from helping deliver babies to medevacing critically ill patients. Learning much from her patients and colleagues at the bedside for 15 years, she also taught in baccalaureate nursing programs for almost 20 years as a nursing adjunct faculty member (yes! Some of those years she did both!). As a freelance writer online, she writes content for nursing schools and colleges, healthcare and medical businesses, as well as various nursing sites.

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