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Passport to Practice helps Rhode Island nurses find jobs, learn new skills

Sandra Phillips, RN

A recent nursing school graduate searching for a job in her field for two years finally found one after participating in a unique Rhode Island nursing residency program called Passport to Practice.

“The nurse described the program as a life-changer,” said Sandra Phillips, MS, RN, NE-BC. Phillips is the Passport to Practice project director and director of education at Kent Hospital in Warwick, R.I., one of the healthcare facilities that participates in the program.

Seventeen of the 18 participants in the statewide residency program now in its second year have found jobs in the nursing field, Phillips said, adding the other participant is studying for an MSN.

Phillips said the program started as a way to help new graduates and other nurses who were having difficulty finding employment in Rhode Island. The six-month program trains them in 21st-century skills, preparing them for future jobs inside and outside the hospital, she said. Some participants were working as waitresses and restaurant owners, but wanted to begin their nursing careers, she said.

The Rhode Island Action Coalition for the Future of Nursing, along with public and private sector partners, secured $600,000 with a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant and matching funds to run Passport to Practice, which will begin its second round of cohorts in October.

Lynda Plante-Dalpe, RN

The residents do clinical rotations in acute care, long-term care and community health as well as at agencies for people with development disabilities.

“That’s where healthcare is moving, out of the hospital and into the community,” Phillips said. “We wanted to provide the residents opportunities to find employment out of the traditional setting of the hospital.”

In addition, the residents attend once-a-week daylong didactic sessions focusing on future competencies such as geriatric assessment and evidence-based practice.

Diane Kurowski, BSN, RN, nurse manager of the surgical unit at Kent Hospital, hired two nurses to work in postop care while they were enrolled in Passport to Practice.

“The program better prepared them to take care of the patients,” Kurowski said. “It gave you a feel to see how they would perform ahead of time. … It gave them the extra edge.”

Lynda Plante-Dalpe, RN, LNCC, is one of the nurses Kurowski hired. She worked as an ED nurse in the 1980s, then started a legal nurse consulting business.

Sandra Fournier, RN

“But I missed the patient contact,” she said. She decided to return to full-time nursing.

“I went the usual route and did an RN refresher course,” she said. “I started putting out resumes and I wasn’t getting any response.”

Then she learned about Passport to Practice.

“I wondered if they’d accept me, even though I wasn’t a nurse fresh out of school.”

Applicants who were accepted either had to have a BSN or show they were working toward one. Plante-Dalpe is working on her BSN.

Through the program she learned about new medications and nursing procedures.

“The nursing profession is changing,” she said. “They’ve given nurses a lot of responsibility.”

With the RN refresher program, Plante-Dalpe also worked with manikins.

“With the residency program, you work with patients,” she said. “I was on the floor with my preceptor. I can see what is required of me. They can see if you’ll be a good fit.”

Sandra Fournier, BSN, RN, CDDN, a co-leader with the Rhode Island Action Coalition and director of Woonsocket’s Living Rite Center of Seven Hills in Rhode Island, said the residency program offers nurses a chance to broaden their view of the field.

“The residency program exposes the nurse to different areas, and hopefully they’ll embrace the opportunities that exist in those areas,” she said, noting one example is working with those who have disabilities, which requires a special set of skills.

The Institute of Medicine’s 2010 report’s recommendations for nursing include fostering advanced education and nursing residencies.

“We’re really trying to make that happen in Rhode Island,” she said.

Sheryl DeVore is a copy editor at

By | 2020-04-15T09:27:09-04:00 October 1st, 2014|Categories: National|0 Comments

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