Residency Success!

Advice from pediatric RN residency program participants, like Desie Baker RN, BSN, CPN

Residency Success!

Considering applying to a pediatric nurse residency program?

  • What are the benefits?
  • What past experiences can get you noticed for these competitive opportunities?
  • And if accepted, how can you get the most out of your program?

To get answers, the IPN reached out to Jennifer R. Shelby MSN, RN, CPN,Director of Education for the Methodist Children's Hospital & Women's Services pediatric residency program to interview some of their stand-out participants. Locate a residency program.  

When reviewing applications, Jennifer notes, "We look for overachievers and future nurses who will be engaged professionals in the organization. We want applicants who will fit into our "family" and stay for the life of their career. New grads who are ready to learn and go the extra mile to take care of their patients will be hired without a doubt!

IPN Residency Success

From left: Desie Baker RN, BSN, CPN, Edward Frick, RN, BSN, and Leslie Cervantes, RN, BSN

Desie Baker RN, BSN, CPN completed her pediatric nursing residency program with Methodist Children's Hospital in San Antonio, Texas in February 2013. Now Desie works in their Pediatric Surgical Unit. Her director of education felt Desie was an outstanding participant, so the IPN asked her for tips on applying, maximizing the residency experience, and more.

Were you local, or did you move to be in the program?

I was local, but I would have relocated for a residency program if it was necessary.

Why did you apply for a residency program?

I was a new graduate and wanted to ensure that I was prepared to be the best nurse I could be. Fresh out of school, I did not feel prepared to take care of patients, especially pediatrics. I applied to hospitals that had a residency program, not just a few weeks of orientation. Wanting to work in pediatrics, I realized I hadn't had as much clinical time in pediatrics as I desired nor did I feel that it was sufficient time to prepare me for working in a children's hospital.

What experience did you highlight in the application process to get noticed?

I was on my current unit during my immersion program the last semester of nursing school. I wanted to work in pediatrics so I made sure that I was placed on a pediatric floor for clinical at every opportunity. I think I drove the instructors crazy with my requests to be in pediatrics. It worked though!

Throughout college I worked as a summer camp counselor, living with girls aged 7-17 for over 2 months. It's there that I truly realized I wanted to work with children. I made sure to include my experiences there in my interviews; I even put the camp director as a reference.

Why do you feel you were selected for the program?

While in immersion, I made an effort to make as many connections as possible. I also made it known that I wanted to work with children. Eventually the director heard of my dream to work in a children's hospital and approached me about applying to the residency.

One important goal of these programs is to minimize stress and burnout. What activities or support have you been offered to help with these concerns?

My director and assistant director are always available to talk about stressful situations. They look for opportunities to advance our nursing careers and encourage staff to expand on our practice so work doesn't become stagnant and predictable. My floor is known to have quick turnover and burnout, but management support has kept many nurses and ancillary here through utilizing care partners and ensuring we are properly staffed. By gradually taking on a full patient load, the residency allows new grads to steadily build up their confidence and skills in order to tolerate and excel in stressful situations. The residency program itself provides a great resource for decompressing after difficult shifts; all of the residents are new as well and have gone through/will eventually have a similar day.

Once a new grad starts a residency, what are some tips for finding a great mentor?

Thankfully my preceptor was a great mentor for me. My director and assistant director choose preceptors who are skilled nurses but also those who are approachable, willing to teach, and are positive role models. Hopefully, other directors and units can predict which nurses would make good mentors and use them for residents. If not, I recommend finding someone who you want to be when you're an established nurse—a time management guru; someone who is policy savvy; a clear, effective communicator—and ask them, "How do you do it?"

How can residency participants get the most out of their program?

Make sure that you can have the opportunity to orient/precept with a couple of nurses. Everyone has a different way of approaching their day and organizing patient care. You also have a better opportunity to get to know your coworkers more. And as overused as the adage is, ASK QUESTIONS! From the major inquiries about patient care and nursing skills, to minor, personal problems like how to get a stain out of your scrubs, you will never know unless you ask!

What aspects of your personality contributed to the program?

My most identifiable personality trait is probably my enthusiasm. Being excited to learn and getting to take care of kids was one of the key things I feel I contributed to the residency program. Even if it was a day I didn't feel my best, I would chug my coffee and remind myself that I was here for a reason and needed to always put my best foot forward.

What do you love about the Pediatric Surgical Unit?

I LOVE my unit. My boss is one of the best—she wants us to love working with children and working with each other. My co-workers definitely make my unit a fantastic place to be. We operate as a team and constantly look for ways to help each other out. We are very much a family, and I know I couldn't survive working here without them. And obviously, I love our patient population. There are so many things to see and learn with every surgical patient we have—and many overflow patients from the other units...we see everything!—I am never bored. The children are the reason I work here. They are SO resilient and I am constantly learning from them; often, I discover more about myself working with them.

What's your advice for a student on the fence about applying for a residency program?

It can only help you. Learning hands-on with your coworkers is one of the best ways to orient to your unit and acquire new skills that are important to your patient population. Each unit is unique and has its own way of operating. Being a new grad can be stressful; the benefit of having an experienced nurse backing you up your first few months is indispensable, and it's an experience I'll never regret.

Edward Frick, RN, BSN completed his pediatric nursing residency program with Methodist Children's Hospital in San Antonio, Texas in the fall of 2014. He now works in their Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. His director of education felt Edward was an outstanding participant, so the IPN asked him for tips on applying, maximizing the residency experience, and more. 

Were you local, or did you move to be in the program? 

I was local and attended nursing school in San Antonio. 

Why did you apply for a residency program? 

I watched many of my friends complete the residency program after graduation from school. They explained that the transition to becoming a staff nurse is difficult. They explained the basics of the program and how it benefited them in their practice. I knew I wanted intensive care and wanted the preceptor instruction along with classroom time to become the best possible nurse. I felt while my clinical skills and knowledge base were strong, the experience and exposure that could be gained during the residency would be tremendous. The one-on-one instruction with my preceptors along with the experiences in the classroom, including the emergency nurse pediatrics course and pediatric advanced life support certification, were additional knowledge base experiences I wanted prior to being on my own as a nurse. 

What experience did you highlight in the application process to get noticed? 

I highlighted my journey in life and that returning back to school later in life provided me with the drive and dedication to succeed. I focused on my customer service skills acquired in the Restaurant and Hospitality industry highlighting that within every job obtained I rose to the top including becoming assistant general manager of a multimillion dollar restaurant. I explained that I started as a volunteer within the Methodist system after many applications had failed to yield a position within the company. Through my hard work, I was recognized by a director and offered a patient care position during my last year of nursing school. I worked full-time on the night shift, made excellent grades, participated in a Project Quest which is a workforce initiative program for San Antonio, and was Vice President of the school's chapter of the Texas Student Nurses Association. I pointed out that this showed my ability to multitask successfully and achieve desired outcomes for myself. 

Why do you feel you were selected for the program? 

I felt like my peer interviews went extremely well and created a good connection with the nurses who interviewed me. I believe I was selected based on my experiences and my communication skills that I utilized during my interview. 

One important goal of these programs is to minimize stress and burnout. What activities or support have you been offered to help with these concerns?

After I completed the residency, I was usually placed next to more senior and experienced nurses who were always willing and able to assist me. It was the scariest experience to feel alone after the program ended: my first code blue occurred shortly after completion of the program. I called for help and within 15 seconds I had a team of respiratory therapists, nurses, and a doctor all in the room to help me. It was amazing to have such great coworkers in such a stressful moment. 

Once a new grad starts a residency, what are some tips for finding a great mentor? 

This process is individual, but find the nurses who like to teach and are always up for giving you advice or coaching. Be receptive to constructive criticism and always listen. I am now a part of the Mentor Program within my hospital and find it to be rewarding experience. 

How can residency participants get the most out of their program? 

Residency in pediatrics is a whirlwind, keep a notebook when you encounter a drug, treatment, term, diagnosis, or anything you don't understand. Jot it down. Go home and study: learning never stops in nursing. Ask questions, a lot of them. If you don't ask questions, the preceptors will become concerned. Come prepared and ready to work. 

What aspects of your personality contribute to the program? 

I think of myself as a leader, slightly (extremely) obsessive compulsive, extroverted, and tenacious. These qualities all contributed to the program in different ways. My leadership was often utilized as bringing our lively group of residents to order when needed and facilitating group bonding. My obsessive compulsive nature was a perfect fit for the PICU as most nurses in the intensive care specialty have it to some degree each with their own way of doing a particular task. I am extroverted and will always say hello and introduce myself; this was excellent as you are constantly meeting other staff members, doctors, and others during this period. My tenacious nature has lead me to always be learning and improving my knowledge and clinical skills. 

What do you love about the PICU? 

PICU is an experience like no other. We see babies all the way to sometimes older than 18. We have a diverse patient population, and when I walk into work I never know what my assignment will hold, except during respiratory season. There is a lot of autonomy within my practice. The clinical skills gained are numerous including CRRT and ECMO, and I will soon hopefully learn both. The knowledge and thinking aspect especially with congenital heart defect patients has been challenging but rewarding. The doctors on my unit expect a certain level of critical thinking, and I love that aspect of my job. The doctors love to teach, and I appreciate it greatly. Our unit works so well together, especially in code situations, we have had medical residents ask, "Was that a code?" It is a tightly bonded group of individuals who are unique and will forever remember certain patients who have touched our lives in profound and unexpected ways. 

What's your advice for a student on the fence about applying for a residency program? 

If you are applying for jobs, look into facilities that offer a residency program and find out what they offer. It is an experience that makes the transition to staff nurse easier and much more manageable. I would never have considered a position without a residency. It made me a better nurse and taught me many invaluable lessons about safeguarding my license. A position without a residency is like being thrown in the deep end of a pool without being able to swim. The residency is like a set of floaties and a coach that teach you how to swim and make sure you don't drown. It is the safest and smartest way to make the transition from student to staff.

 

Leslie Cervantes, RN, BSN completed her pediatric nursing residency program with Methodist Children's Hospital in San Antonio, Texas in February 2016. She now works in their Pediatric Medicine Unit. Her director of education felt she was an outstanding participant, so the IPN asked her for tips on applying, maximizing the residency experience, and more.  

Were you local, or did you move to be in the program? 

I was local, here in San Antonio. I graduated from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio School of Nursing with a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing in 2016. 

Why did you apply for a residency program? 

I applied because I wished to ease into the transition from a nursing student to an independent and confident RN. I first heard about residency programs during my third semester of nursing school and immediately started researching the programs in my area. I looked up the application deadlines and when the actual programs would start to see which would be the next one after my graduation date and plan when I would need to take the NCLEX and pass. 

What experience did you highlight in the application process to get noticed? 

Apart from having graduated with a BSN from a highly recognized nursing school in the area, I talked about experiences during my pediatric clinical rotation, capstone course with an elementary school nurse, work experience as a CNA and Telemetry RN, and my volunteer work at another children's hospital. I had been working as an RN on a telemetry unit for 2 months at another hospital before I was offered the position in the residency program. 

On my resume, I listed my education, work experience, accreditations, professional organizations, community service, clinical placements, and references. I mentioned all the various hospitals I had attended throughout my clinical rotations and the different working environments I was exposed to. After being asked a series of questions during my interviews, mostly to describe how I reacted during a certain situation or how I handled myself in difficult scenarios, I was able to utilize my experiences to give appropriate answers. I believe my experiences certainly helped me to stand out as well as the examples I chose to share. Even though I did not have much experience working with children, simply working as a CNA will lead you to all sorts of observations and encounters. 

Why do you feel you were selected for the program? 

I attended an open house event where I interviewed with the directors of different units within the Children's hospital, and they would make the decision whether I would go on to a peer-to-peer interview. I feel I was selected due to several aspects such as my compassion, work experience, and education. I'm sure they also took into consideration whether I would be a good fit for their team or not because teamwork is an essential component in providing high quality care for patients. 

One important goal of these programs is to minimize stress and burnout. What activities or support have you been offered to help with these concerns? 

I received a lot of support from my educators as well as my classmates during this process. I was also lucky to have an amazing preceptor who was always by my side on the floor: teaching, guiding, and giving me plenty of advice. Everyone is always so welcoming in the units and offer help when needed. It truly makes a difference when your co-workers collaborate, communicate, and simply have your back. A positive work environment is critical in minimizing stress and burnout. 

How can residency participants get the most out of their program? 

Listening, paying attention in class, taking notes, practicing skills, and asking a lot of questions definitely assist you in getting the most out of your program. Following your preceptor and learning from their ways can also help you find what works best for you. 

What aspects of your personality contribute to the program? 

I would say I am a very approachable, friendly, respectful, hard-working, caring, and responsible individual who takes pride in her career. I contribute as much help as I can provide, and work well alongside my team members. I believe I also take very good care of my patients and their families, and attend to their needs promptly. 

What do you love about the Pediatric Medicine Unit? 

I love my pediatric medical unit because it is a wonderful working environment where there is true teamwork, dedication, compassion for our patients, outstanding doctors, and great communication. We strive to provide excellent patient care. I love interacting with our patients and their families. 

What's your advice for a student on the fence about applying for a residency program? 

I highly recommend applying because these programs train and orient you best to the area of nursing you will be working in. It is an extensive and enriching process where you learn and receive full support before you are on your own, as well as afterwards. It's a guiding mechanism used to correlate what you learned in nursing school and apply it to an actual working environment where patient safety is the key.

Carson Roper, RN, BSN completed her pediatric nursing residency program with Methodist Children's Hospital in San Antonio, Texas in November 2015. She now works in their Pediatric Hematology/Oncology/Bone Marrow Transplant Unit. Her director of education felt she was an outstanding participant, so the IPN asked her for tips on applying, maximizing the residency experience, and more. 

Were you local, or did you move to be in the program? 

I moved to be in the program. I am originally from Houston, and I went to nursing school at Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, Texas. 

Why did you apply for a residency program? 

I applied for a residency program because I wanted a thorough orientation and more education for my first nursing job out of nursing school. 

What experience did you highlight in the application process to get noticed? 

During nursing school I worked as a nurse tech at the VA hospital in Temple, Texas. While an undergraduate, I did my leadership capstone project on a pediatric med/surg floor about patient/parent satisfaction with increased care team communication. In addition, I spent 10 weeks in the summer of 2013 working in a pediatric hospital in Brasov, Romania with abandoned and orphaned children. 

Why do you feel you were selected for the program? 

I believe that I was selected for the program for my passion for caring for children, my experience, and my GPA (3.75/4). 

One important goal of these programs is to minimize stress and burnout. What activities or support have you been offered to help with these concerns?

Our unit (Pedi Hem/Onc and BMT) has a "Fun Committee" that plans monthly outings. I am also involved with a church group and have very supportive non-nursing friends. 

How can residency participants get the most out of their program? 

They can get the most out of their program by asking lots of questions! Be an active learner and always aim to learn more. Fill out each evaluation honestly so that the next group of residences can have an even better and more productive program. 

What aspects of your personality contribute to the program? 

I think I am an eager learner and full of joy. 

What do you like about working in the hematology/oncology/bone marrow transplant unit? 

I like all of my co-workers, and I enjoy coming to work each shift. I have learned a great deal from each of the doctors, and they are all willing to teach the nursing staff. I love celebrating with the patients as they finish their treatment of chemo or when they are discharged home for the first time with a new immune system after their bone marrow transplant. 

What's your advice for a student on the fence about applying for a residency program? 

Apply for a residency program! I really appreciated the fact that I had 16 weeks with a preceptor to learn the ins and outs of the unit and how to be a nurse. I would say I am a very approachable, friendly, respectful, hard-working, caring, and responsible individual who takes pride in her career. I contribute as much help as I can provide, and work well alongside my team members. I believe I also take very good care of my patients and their families, and attend to their needs promptly. 

What do you love about the Pediatric Medicine Unit? 

I love my pediatric medical unit because it is a wonderful working environment where there is true teamwork, dedication, compassion for our patients, outstanding doctors, and great communication. We strive to provide excellent patient care. I love interacting with our patients and their families. 

What's your advice for a student on the fence about applying for a residency program? 

I highly recommend applying because these programs train and orient you best to the area of nursing you will be working in. It is an extensive and enriching process where you learn and receive full support before you are on your own, as well as afterwards. It's a guiding mechanism used to correlate what you learned in nursing school and apply it to an actual working environment where patient safety is the key.

Brittani McBee, RN, BSN completed her pediatric nursing residency program with Methodist Children's Hospital in San Antonio, Texas in February 2016. She now works in the Pediatric Intermediate Care Unit. Her director of education felt she was an outstanding participant, so the IPN asked her for tips on applying, maximizing the residency experience, and more. 

When will you complete your residency? (If already completed, please share date finished.) 

I completed my residency in February 2016. 

Were you local, or did you move to be in the program? 

I was local. 

Why did you apply for a residency program? 

I felt, as a new nurse, that residency would be the most educational and best transition point from student nurse to practicing nurse. 

What experience did you highlight in the application process to get noticed? 

I had previous work experience at Methodist Children's Hospital, and I talked about my dedication to children and a strong desire to advance my education. 

Why do you feel you were selected for the program? 

I feel like my qualifications and past work ethics were what made me standout. I had been working at Methodist since I was 19, and I truly loved caring for children. 

One important goal of these programs is to minimize stress and burnout. What activities or support have you been offered to help with these concerns?

The best thing was having a preceptor for so long. Someone to guide us and refer to when we have questions. Having a welcome atmosphere from the current nurses was also very helpful. There did not seem to be the mentality of nurses eating their young. 

Once a new grad starts a residency, what are some tips for finding a great mentor? 

Find someone you get along with and has similar ideas. Maybe someone in a unit you hope to advance to one day. 

How can residency participants get the most out of their program? 

Participate in the classes, do the reading material. There is a lot of education out there if you take advantage of it. 

What aspects of your personality contribute to the program? 

I am very determined and a hard worker. Once I set my mind to something I put my all into it. 

What do you love about the Pediatric Intermediate Care Unit? 

The patients. There is such a wide variety and always something new to learn. Working with kids is an amazing experience and seeing the strength families have is inspiring. The best I hope to do is make a small difference in their life for that moment. 

What's your advice for a student on the fence about applying for a residency program? 

Take advantage of it! Not many are afforded the opportunity to learn in such a vast way. It is a great transition and even though there are still a lot of things to learn, the residency makes it feel manageable. Experienced nurses come together to help you so take advantage and learn as much as you can.