CONWAY, S.C. (WBTW) — Conway Medical Center started a new nurse residency program amid a nursing shortage earlier this month.

About 100,000 registered nurses left the workforce in the past two years, according to the American Hospital Association.

CMC is the second hospital in South Carolina to get the nurse residency program to help combat the nursing shortage, as an alarming amount of nursing graduates leave the field within their first year.

“We’re very excited to have this program and help grow and build our new nurse program here at the hospital,” said Sarah Jennings, the program’s coordinator and clinical educator.

The program is a year-long and nationally accredited.

“Nursing is hard. It’s always a challenge, it’s always something new,” Jennings said. “It’s very different to get into the hospital nursing versus what you learn in school. So, this is designed to help transition that jump from school into real practice.”

The nurses meet for four hours during monthly seminars to get hands-on training and ask questions.

The program aims to help support, grow and keep new nurses out of school in the field and help foster their development with evidence-based practice and safe clinical practices.

“The program also does a lot of surveying. There are more than 700 hospitals now I believe that are in this program,” Jennings said. “And they take the data from the surveys that they collect and help to change and build the program moving forward.”

Shelly Holliday, a participant in the program who graduated from nursing school in May, shared how much the program has helped her.

“So, I was really nervous coming into nursing because nursing school was very different then real-life nursing,” she said. “But I felt like everybody really supported us and they want us to do our best and they are really patient and explain everything and made the transition very smooth for us.”

The next group of nurses who will begin in the program will start in March.

“I feel like if you’ve decided to be a nurse, figure out your reason why and once you decided that ‘why’, you’ll never forget it,” Jennings said.

CMC gained 12 new nurses with their first group. Five more will join next month.

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Gracie is a multimedia journalist at News 13 and is from Cleveland, Ohio. Gracie joined the team in June 2023 after graduating from the University of Alabama in May. Follow Gracie on Facebook, Instagram and X, formerly Twitter, & read more of her work here.