Learning together:
Learning together: Trent Basset, a critical care nurse, mentors Carmen Cannon, a student in our associate degree program. Carmen, who will earn her RN this year, worked as a food handler in our cafeteria before being accepted into our RN program.

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Nursing Innovations

04. The nurses you're searching for are right inside your hospital walls.

Look around your hospital. Really look. Look at the people making beds in patient rooms, drawing blood in the phlebotomy lab, or wheeling patients to radiology. What if you could take the best and brightest of them and help them become RNs? And what if you could further guarantee that they’d launch their RN careers right in your hospital?

It might sound like a crazy idea, but that’s exactly what we did. It all started when one of our promising health care assistants, Trent Bassett, couldn’t get in to nursing school. He had great grades and solid work experience, and yet he’d been rejected by multiple programs. But he didn’t come to us to complain. He came to us with an idea.

A nursing assistant driving change.

We helped Trent create a program in our hospital called FUUN—Future University of Utah Nurses. The group met to discuss nursing application strategies, hear from admissions counselors at local schools, and help each other through the application process. The networking and collaboration paid off. Within a year, all but one FUUN participant had been accepted to nursing school. And today, Trent is one of our critical care nurses.

A new kind of nursing school is built.

Through FUUN, we learned that there were plenty of people, right within our own hospital walls, who would love to help fill our nursing gaps … if they could just get the clinical training they needed. And so we took Trent’s idea and pushed it to the max: We created our very own nursing program.

Student success story: From cafeteria to clinicals.

Carmen Cannon knew she wanted to be a nurse at University of Utah Health Care, but there was only one problem. She didn’t have an RN, and she had no idea how long it would take to get into a traditional nursing program. She didn’t want to give up, but she was having a hard time moving forward. “I was working in the cafeteria at the U—I just wanted to get into the hospital any way I could, and I knew I had to start somewhere.”

When she got accepted to our Salt Lake Community College nursing program, she knew she was finally on her way to fulfilling her dream. “It was shocking and thrilling to get in,” she says. “The opportunity to receive free tuition and books is pretty unbelievable.” Today, Carmen is finishing her program, confidently making it through her clinicals, and preparing for her next move: a doctorate in psychiatric nursing. “The SLCC program opened up more opportunities for me and other people like me who work at the hospital,” she says. “And I’m forever grateful.

83 new RNs.
60 more in the queue.
$0 spent to recruit them.

University of Utah Health Care currently has 74 graduates from our associate’s degree program working as RNs in our hospital, and 60 more students in the queue to become our new RN hires. Because they’ve agreed to work for us for three years after graduating, we’ve saved $3 million - $9.1 million in recruitment costs.

We knew that the difficulty for nursing hopefuls was getting an RN, and once that was accomplished, the RN-to-BSN program was more readily available. So we developed an RN associate’s degree program in partnership with Salt Lake Community College and the University of Utah College of Nursing.

Now in its 4th year, our program is open only to current University of Utah Health Care employees, so staff with the right grades and prerequisites have an easier way to get into school, get trained and get to work. We pay for each student’s tuition and books with a single caveat: They must agree to work with us as an RN for three years after they graduate.

“Students are elated when they find out they have the opportunity to go to nursing school. We have been able to help fulfill dreams as well as fill open nursing positions.” —Tiffany Noss, Staff Development Educator,
Clinical Staff Education

“It’s a win for our staff and a win for our hospital, too,” says Tiffany Noss, who manages our student programs. “The program requires an investment of about $12,000 per student, but it pays for itself.” Indeed it does. According to the American Nurses Association, recruitment can range from $22,000 - $64,000 per nurse, depending on factors like turnover, unit specialty or location. With a guaranteed pipeline of new nurses for our hospital each year, we save hundreds of thousands in recruiting costs and our new RNs are busy continuing their education to BSN and beyond.