Meet the fresh faces of our New Grad RNs: Walker Whittemore, Unit RN at Porter Medical Center & Nurse Residency Program
Published Sept. 25, 2023

New grad RN, Walker Whittemore, BSN, (furthest right), with two colleagues at Porter Medical Center’s Nurse Residency Program.


The University of Vermont Health Network proudly invests in the growth of our Nurses entering the workforce by offering comprehensive Nurse Residency programs to new grad RNs.


The Nurse Residency programs at UVMHN have expanded across our affiliates, providing new grad RNs additional tools and mentorship to make the transition to clinical practice easier and to prepare them for a successful career in Nursing. 


Employee Spotlight: We were fortunate to interview one of our RNs and current nurse resident at Porter Medical Center, Walker Whittemore, BSN. Walker spoke with us about his experience at Porter, working as a new RN since graduating this past May, and why his choice to participate in the Nurse Residency program at PMC was the most beneficial decision for his professional career post-graduation.


What nursing school did you graduate from and when? What is your current position at Porter Medical Center?


Walker: I graduated from Castleton in May of 2023 with my BSN. I’m now a Unit RN at Porter in the Emergency Department.


What initially motivated you to become an RN?

Walker: I was an EMT for five years. I had a lot of pre-hospital experience, but I wanted something more steady, and I like caring for the people in my community. I decided nursing school was the best way for me to do that. I did look into other areas of medicine and possibly becoming a doctor, but I just feel like nurses are the real backbone. They spend a lot more time with the patients. We get to make those real connections with the patients as nurses. That’s why I chose nursing school. 


When did you begin the Nurse Residency program at Porter Medical Center?


Walker: I began my residency on July 10th, so we are going on a little over two months in the program now.


What has your work experience been like as a new grad RN, starting your career in PMC’s Nurse Residency program? Has the transition been challenging at all?


Walker: The transition was very smooth. I did my senior capstone at Porter, so I was familiar with the educators there and we were able to talk over the summer about what their nurse residency is all about. Our nurse educators provide numerous resources, weekly check-ins, residency education days…just having a constant source of support and a person to contact, it’s been nice to be able to reach out and have those resources readily available to us.


Who runs PMC’s Nurse Residency Program? Who is your person to contact, guiding you through residency? 


Walker: She is an RN but works in the education department at PMC. We are taught and led by clinical nurse educators. They run the Nurse Residency program at Porter and have refined it, made it into what it is today.


Has your experience been positive since starting in July?


Walker: It’s been very positive. Our clinical nurse educators take the time to explain anything you’re confused about. They really design the program around you. We learn multiple approaches and always have access to resources, whether it’s handouts, videos, or having us spend time with other departments to learn more hands-on; Everyone moves together at the same pace, but if you need more time to understand, they will take the time – even outside of residency – to meet with you, to go over things, to practice. Really anything we need help understanding, we can always rely on our clinical nurse educators.


How big is PMC’s Nurse Residency program, currently? Do you feel that level of support from your fellow residents?


Walker: Right now our program has seven residents, three of which I went to nursing school with and we graduated together. Our community is quite small, so I also know people in other programs around the Network. We can acknowledge that we are new, we all have questions, and we are not quite confident yet, but we support each other through it. [My program] has an ongoing group text thread, so if something happens during a shift, if you need to talk and debrief, or just vent it out…everyone is just very supportive.


What do you think are the main benefits of participating in Porter Medical Center’s nurse residency program?


Walker: The accessibility of resources. Our POCs are never going to leave us high and dry. The peer-to-peer relationships are also great because we are constantly communicating. I’d say one of the biggest benefits, too, is that we gain confidence. I know other health systems that don’t offer nurse residency programs, they’ll give new RNs the typical orientation that lasts about a month or two, and then you’re on your own. It’s a lot of information being thrown all at once, which doesn’t boost confidence when you’re not as experienced. In this profession, you can get worn down pretty easily. I feel like doing a nurse residency really provides us a leg-up…we gain experience before the experience, I suppose.


What made you choose PMC’s Nurse Residency program, specifically?


Walker: I was looking at other programs at some nearby hospitals, but what it really came down to was that I wanted to be at a facility where I knew the people. Porter is like one big family. If you mention someone’s name, let’s use the example, “Mary” – people will be like, “Mary from OB? Or Mary from Infusion?” Everyone knows everyone. Also, if you really take the time to engage with the patients, it makes all the difference. I’ve been a patient at PMC in the past, and what I especially remember was receiving excellent care, each time. So, that level of care that I received also inspired me to choose Porter.


Would you recommend PMC’s Nurse Residency program to other new grad nurses?


Walker: Definitely, especially because they extend the program beyond orientation. Once you finish orientation, which is usually completed by January, the Nurse Residency Programs still go through March. So you have those extra few months after orientation to make sure that you are truly confident and comfortable. Plus, the connections you make during residency, they last throughout your career. And not just at PMC, you make connections throughout the entire UVM Network.

New to Nursing? UVMHN offers residencies designed for new grads at several of our affiliates. Explore our current programs and offerings at each of our participating affiliates here.

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