Purpose: Critical care units are particularly affected by the shortage of nurses. In order to overcome this problem, many organizations have increased the hiring of newly graduated nurses. This paper describes a residency program developed to facilitate the safe integration of those nurses into critical care and its outcomes.

Methods: A one-year nursing residency program dedicated to nurses with less than a year of experience was implemented in 2008. Recruitment and retention rates, as well as accessibility to critical care, were evaluated.

Results: A 46% increase in recruitment rate of newly graduated nurses was observed when comparing the same period of time before and after implementation of the program. Moreover, the one-year retention rate rose by 26%; the retention rate, without considering the time since the beginning of employment, rose by 71%. As for accessibility to critical care, it increased by 50% (from 24 to 36 beds). Finally, the program was favourably evaluated by experienced nurses in terms of skills and critical thinking development among nursing residents.

Conclusion: A nursing residency program developed to meet the needs of inexperienced nurses and integrate them into high-acuity settings appears to be one solution to resolving undesirable limited access to safe-quality critical care.