Passion for the Profession: The Vizient Nurse Residency Program


Collaborative. Thought-provoking. Reinvigorating. These are just a few of the words used by some of the 400 attendees when asked to describe the recent Vizient-hosted Nurse Residency Program (NRP) conference.

But the really exciting part of the event was the energy generated by the passion in people new to the nursing profession and how that flowed to CNOs, program leaders, academic partners, RN facilitators and all the other attendees. 

The Vizient NRP requires participants complete an evidence-based practice project at the end of the one-year residency. In preparation for the conference, residents are asked to submit an abstract of their project and the top abstracts are selected to make live podium presentations. This year, seven abstracts were selected to present. 

“The presentations by the nurse residents really made me step back and say, ‘Wow’,” said Jayne Willingham, MN, RN, CPHQ, senior director, nursing leadership at Vizient.

In addition, 38 projects were selected for the poster session, where the attendees of the conference vote on the first-, second- and third-place winners.

“At the heart of the NRP is a desire for the participating hospitals to help the new residents grow professionally, and what other great way than to have them go to a national conference and present their work,” Willingham said.

One of the more touching presentations was titled, Sanctifying Sadness: Examining a Moment of Silence to Honor ICU Patients’ Deaths. This project was done by one individual, not a group. The presentation stood out because of the young nurse’s unbridled passion for the project. 

“This simple yet impactful moment of silence has made a substantial difference in the critical care areas at her organization,” Willingham said. 

Another riveting presentation addressed the growing but difficult issue of identifying human trafficking victims in the emergency department. 

The nurse resident presenting on this topic works in a hospital located in the mountains of northern Colorado near a main interstate highway. The statistics for human trafficking in the area are unusually high. The presentation revealed that unlike child abuse (which is somewhat easier to report), suspected human trafficking presents an entirely different set of circumstances that could threaten the safety of the supposed victim. The hospital heightened their assessment skills and looked for subtle indications that could be red flags. Since its implementation, this enhanced assessment and their interventions have saved five individuals from captivity.

After hearing this presentation, one organization from the Houston area said, ‘I have to go back to my facility and talk about this because we are in a corridor along an interstate highway that is ripe for this type of criminal activity. We need to heighten our awareness and assessment skills in the emergency department to be alert for this.’

As for the projects submitted for the poster contest, the first-place poster winner was a group who tackled the issue of removing Clostridium difficile from their facility. C. difficile is a highly contagious, debilitating GI infection to which patients on multiple antibiotics are susceptible. This group looked at the potential impact of something as simple as yogurt.  

“They implemented a process where patients on antibiotic therapy got a cup of yogurt on their meal tray every day. As a result, they eliminated C. diff. in two areas of the hospital,” Willingham said. “The year prior to their project they had eight cases and after they implemented this strategy of serving yogurt (which costs next to nothing), they eliminated the problem.”

In addition to the project presentations, the conference included training and rapid-fire sessions, all crafted to provide an ideal platform for networking and knowledge sharing. Adding to the insight and knowledge was the keynote by Dr. Katherine Flaherty, nurse research scientist at the University of Colorado, who presented Igniting Passion in Nursing

For more information on how to get your organization involved in the Vizient Nurse Residency Program, please email

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