To better prepare nursing graduates for the transition from the classroom to the bedside, the Seton Family has implemented an innovative residency program. Seton also encourages and supports nurses at all levels of the organization to continue their education and seek additional certifications and degrees.

A newcomer to both nursing and the Seton Family, Sara Shannon is a staff nurse on University Medical Center Brackenridge’s seventh-floor Medical/Surgical and Telemetry unit. A former newspaper reporter, Sara switched careers after a life-altering personal experience.

“My husband was treated with a serious illness on the eighth floor of UMCB in 2003. I was so impressed with three nurses in particular that I decided to spend the second half of my working life as a nurse,” she said. “When I saw the positive impact nurses can have on both patients and family members, my heart just opened up. Nursing became my passion.”

After earning her associates degree in nursing, Sara volunteered at Seton Southwest, where she learned about Seton’s RN Residency Program. “I was close to finishing the nursing program and had a nagging concern about whether I could serve my patients like I wanted to,” she explained. “When I found out about the residency program, I was relieved to know I would be supported during my first months on the job.”

Sara joined the second RN Residency cohort in January 2007. “The program prepared me to provide the best care I could for my patients and families when the residency was over,” she said. “I felt confident and prepared to step up. I learned who I needed to talk to if I saw something that needed to be addressed in the plan of care.”

The debriefing groups were Sara's favorite part of the program. “Basically, you go in a room with other residents and senior-level nurses. You spill your guts. You laugh at yourself. You get advice about how to handle situations differently the next time. And, most importantly, you realize that other new nurses feel like you do.”

The Seton Family is currently working with ACC, UT, Texas State University and Concordia University to develop a Nurse Articulation Acceleration Model. The goal of the project is to bridge the gap between what nursing schools are teaching and what healthcare providers actually need from graduate nurses.

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Sara Shannon, RN,
Staff Nurse, UMCB
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  • a mother
  • a former newspaper reporter
  • a professional
  • a healer
  • a caregiver
  • a nurse
  • a gardener
  • a world traveler
  • a confidant

Seton’s RN Residency Program

Seton’s RN Residency Program was created to better prepare nursing graduates and newly licensed registered nurses for the transition from the classroom to the clinical environment. Through a mix of classroom work (with an emphasis on team-based training), mentoring and other hands-on support, Seton’s RN Residency Program participants gain the confidence and technical competence needed to provide exemplary patient care at the bedside.

Since the RN Residency began in September 2007, Director of Nursing Education Toni Rowin, RN, MSN, said the 18-week program has helped Seton recruit high-caliber nursing candidates.

With an emphasis on team-based training, Seton’s RN Residency Program gives participants the confidence and technical competence needed to provide exemplary patient care.

Nursing Faculty Development Cooperative Grant

The Nursing Faculty Development Cooperative is a new program that was established to prepare experienced nurses to serve as nursing faculty and clinical nurse educators. The cooperative is directed by faculty with The University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing. It also includes nursing faculty from Austin Community College and site coordinators from the Seton Family as well as other area healthcare providers.

Grant funds will be used to develop and implement three graduate-level online courses. Funds will also be used to help recruit and mentor nurses to participate in the program and help pay for tuition. The current priority of the program is to recruit master’s-prepared nurses because their educational credentials best position them to quickly assume faculty positions in nursing schools.

Three graduate courses in nursing education will be offered during the June 1, 2008, to May 31, 2009, grant period: Conceptual Foundations of Nursing Education, Strategies of Teaching and Clinical Teaching. All three courses are designed to prepare nurses to teach in nursing schools, to assume clinical nurse educator and staff education positions and also to teach individual and groups of patients. Currently, 12 Seton nurses with MSN and BSN preparation are enrolled in the first of three graduate-level online courses.

Seton's Nurse Scholarship Endowment

The Seton Family of Hospitals established the Seton Nurse Scholarship Endowment in 2005 to support Seton employees pursuing their education in nursing. The endowment helps Seton attract and retain nurses within Central Texas by providing financial support for continuing education, certifications and advanced degrees. Sixty scholarships have been awarded in the last three years to nurses and prospective nurses from throughout the network.

To date, more than $2.5 million has been contributed by physicians, nurses, volunteers, corporations, individuals and staff. Seton employees have contributed more than $300,000 to the endowment through the “Seton Cares” Employee Campaign.

Recipients are chosen by a committee, and members say they are inspired by the applicants and their stories. Angela Stalbaum, RN, senior director of nursing with Seton Medical Center Austin, served on the committee during 2008. “Reading these applications made me even more proud of my profession,” she said. “The stories of what led these wonderful individuals to seek nursing were amazing. Donating to this effort is so well worth it!”

"The number of scholarship applicants and their stories really show the significant need and impact our Seton Nursing Endowment Scholarship fund has within our own ranks."


Angela Stalbaum, RN,
Senior Director of Nursing, SMCA