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TPC Introduces New Nursing Advancement Initiative

Posted: Tue, September 13, 2016

By: Jake Bissaro

The Providence Center recently rolled out the Nursing Clinical Advancement Program, a four-stage scaled curriculum that recognizes and rewards nurses for professional growth. The role of nurses at TPC is a crucial one, and the program is designed to help nurses advance their practice through leadership incentives and skill development while remaining at TPC.

Sharon Morello, Director of Clinical Training and Development, developed the program, which is based on an advancement scale that was used in hospitals on a national level in the 80s and 90s, before budget issues led to its termination. “Historically, when nurses get more education, they move away from the patients into other roles,” said Morello. “I designed this program to help further the experience of our nurses while allowing them to continue providing clients with the treatment they need.”

The first level in the scale is a Clinical Nurse I (Novice Nurse), which is a nurse who has recently passed his or her boards from nursing school. If he or she passes a six-month probation period, her or she moves on to CNII, or Competent Nurse.

In order to move from CNII to CNIII (Proficient Nurse), the candidate must first declare an intent to apply and complete a detailed portfolio that includes:

  • Recommendation letter from manager
  • Support letters from 3 peers
  • Proof of 16 hours of clinical education units

CNIII Candidates are also required to become involved with 4 (out of 17 suggested) leadership activities of their choosing. The activities can include projects like:

  • Making contributions to a performance improvement task force
  • Coordinating a community health education event
  • Developing patient or family educational materials
  • Active membership in a professional nursing organization

In addition to all this, they must provide an exemplar, which documents a time when the candidate went above and beyond in making a major difference in the outcome of a client. One applicant related the story of a long-time client that had stopped taking medication and become hostile to staff. The applicant followed the case and suggested a critical medication adjustment that led to a significant improvement in symptoms.

Morello thinks that a major advantage to this program is that it will help nurses take stock of what they have learned. “At a certain level of experience, I think the treatment processes become second nature,” said Morello. “I want this program to help our nurses to be able to stop and reflect on all they’ve learned, and how it fits into the overall picture.”

Three TPC nurses achieved the CNIII distinction, the first to do so: Jillian Pastina from Emergency Services, Kathleen Kristopik from Community Support and Evelyn Encinas from the Latino Team. Others have declared their intent to apply for CNIII status. And the rewards aren’t just titles; each advancement includes an increase in pay. 

To achieve CNIV (Expert Nurse), the highest level, a candidate needs 6 leadership activities, 24 contact hours of education and the completion of a national nursing certification, such as the Certified Addictions Registered Nurse program.

Christine Gadbois, TPC’s Director of Population Health and Nursing Services, is helping to oversee the new program. “This is a great opportunity for nurses to expand their professional practice, and be recognized for their skills,” said Gadbois.          

So far the program has been a success, and Morello and the rest of the clinical training staff are in the process of developing a similar scale for TPC’s case managers.