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Nursing - Graduate Nurse Residencies

The Graduate Nurse Residency Program is a structured 13-month program that facilitates the transition of new-to-practice nurses (“graduate nurses”) into the role of the professional nurse through fostering growth and development in the areas of clinical leadership, quality outcomes, and professionalism. As members of Vizient/AACN Nurse Residency Program™, Hershey Medical Center’s program offers classroom and hands-on learning designed to bolster graduate nurses’ competencies, while also ensuring their comfort with the Medical Center’s practice standards. The program is offered three time a year: February, July and October.

Graduate nurse residents enter the program during their general nursing orientation, and program participation continues through their unit specific orientation and first year of practice. During the residency, graduate nurses participate in 13 topical seminars, through which graduate nurses experience an atmosphere of collaboration and camaraderie as they share insight on their personal and professional growth. As part of their professional development, participants are expected to attend all 13 seminars, complete a professional development plan, and present an evidence-based practice project upon program completion. Program seminars also provide networking opportunities for graduate nurses with other program participants, expert facilitators, and mentors. 

Contact us

Learn more about our graduate nurse residency program, contact Kiersten Roberts or call,

717-531-0003, ext. 287812.

Photo of two nurses discussing content that is displayed on a computer screen

We are currently accepting applications for our February 2021 residency program.

Please visit our careers page and apply to Job #18484.

The residency is a full-time nursing position that transitions seamlessly into a full-time staff nurse position. Full pay and benefits are effective the first day of hire. Graduate nurse residents are expected to remain full-time on one unit for the entire year of the program, as well as actively participate in all learning opportunities that are offered. Only then can a transfer to another unit be considered. 

Frequently asked questions about Graduate Nurse Residency

General Graduate Nurse Residency questions

When can I start
We offer the Graduate Nurse Residency three times per year with start dates in February, July, and October.

Do I need experience?
No experience is required for the Graduate Nurse Residency. To be eligible for the program you must have no nursing experience working as a licensed RN.

Is this a paid nurse residency?
Yes. At Hershey Medical Center, all graduate nurse residents are selected to fill permanent staff nurse positions on the hiring unit. You will receive a full RN salary and comprehensive benefits beginning the day you start new employee orientation.

What shift will I be working?
You will most likely be assigned to a full-time night-shift rotation. Once the orientation period is complete (12 to 20 weeks), you will be able to apply to open positions on your unit. Your full-time status must be maintained for one full year.

I already have my RN license. Must I complete a nurse residency in order to be hired at Hershey Medical Center?
Yes, all new graduates without experience are required to be licensed and complete our Graduate Nurse Residency program. However, if you have a minimum six months of hospital acute care RN experience, you can apply for a staff nurse position and potentially be hired without the residency.

What happens if I fail boards before the residency begins?
Unfortunately, our policy states that you will need to pass boards to be eligible for a current position. If you can retake and pass boards before your scheduled start date, plan to do so. If not, contact your recruiter to discuss other options. 
Is there a minimum GPA for acceptance?
Because the residency is an extension of the studying/learning experience, a GPA of 3.0 and higher is preferred.

Is a BSN required in order to be hired as a Graduate Nurse Resident?
No. If you do not hold a bachelor's degree in nursing prior to the start date of the Graduate Nurse Residency program, you must enroll in a BSN program within six months of the start of the program. You will then have four years to complete the program.

Questions about our units

Should I apply to staff nurse jobs on the units that interest me?
No. You will apply to just one position: the Graduate Nurse Residency. When you apply to the Graduate Nurse Residency program, you will have an opportunity to state your areas of interest during the process.

If I am offered and accept a position, may I transfer to another unit when another position opens up?
The expectation is clear that a graduate nurse resident must remain on the hiring unit for at least the full year of the residency. If you are interested in transferring at the end of the program, you may apply online as an internal employee.

Will I know which units are hiring and how many positions they will have?
No. Our staffing needs are fluid and the exact number of available positions is not established until later in the process.


To how many units will my portfolio be sent?
Your completed portfolio will be viewable to every hiring manager.

How will I know what type of patients the different units specialize in, and which units interest me most?
Graduate nurses in our Nurse Residency program may work in one of the following areas:


Adult Acute Care 

Adult Intensive/Critical Care  

Adult Intermediate Care  

Children’s Hospital


Questions regarding the application process

Besides completing the online application, what else do I need to do?
Once your application is submitted, you are required to email your professional portfolio to and complete your references through an electronic reference check company called Checkster. Once your documents have been submitted you will be prompted to submit your unit preferences. 

The professional portfolio includes the following documents:

  • Resume  Include all education and experience, including dates.
  • Cover letter  Start with “Dear Nurse Manager,” and introduce yourself and your goals.
  • Unofficial transcript  This can be found on your school's website. 
  • Clinical narrative  Your narrative will be most beneficial if you write about a specialty where you hope to interview. Learn more about how to prepare your clinical narrative.

For the quickest and most accurate result, please convert each document to PDF format, and attach them all to an email addressed to You will need to label the documents in the following format (include the letters a, b, c, and d):

  • a- cover letter – Last name, first name
  • b- resume – Last name, first name
  • c- transcript – Last name, first name
  • d- narrative – Last name, first name

Do I need written references from my professors?
No. We will not accept written references. You will be sent information from a company called Checkster that will guide you through submitting electronic reference checks.

Questions about interviewing for the Graduate Nurse Residency

Will I be granted an interview in the unit or specialty I have indicated?
We attempt to schedule interviews with specific nurse managers. However, some specialties are more popular than others and being granted an interview in those areas may be more challenging.

Do you provide relocation assistance if I am hired?
Interviewing expenses and relocation costs are not reimbursed.

What can I do to prepare for the interview?
Research Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and the nursing unit(s) you are interviewing with. Please wear scrubs to your interview.

Penn State Health Children's Hospital
Penn State College of Medicine
Penn State Cancer Institute
Penn State University