Climbing the Ladder of Success

Angela Davis, RN, BSN
Angela Davis, RN, BSN, takes a patient’s blood pressure in the Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine. A new program will recognize ambulatory care nurses such as Davis who master new skills and receive high-level training in their specialties.
By Jennifer Martin

The Nursing Department is rolling out a new program designed to recognize ambulatory care nurses who advance to higher levels of competence within their profession.

The program, currently in a test trial with 250 ambulatory care nurses, will encourage nurses to master certain skills and to receive high-level training in their respective specialties, including oncology, dermatology and infectious diseases.

Nurses will advance four levels along a “Clinical Ladder” model, receiving professional recognition and awards for each level mastered. For example, Level 2 requires them to demonstrate competency in a battery of skills within their specialties, such as operating a variety of cardiac equipment correctly.

Level 3 is more challenging, requiring that nurses take part in evidence-based practice – meeting the highest nationwide standards of nursing care established by research. This might mean helping diabetic patients maintain excellent A1C levels for blood sugar control, or ensuring that patients who undergo certain cardiac procedures receive an optimum amount of bed rest afterward.

“It’s challenging and exciting,” said Beverly Robins, MBA, RN, director of Nursing Ambulatory Care. “In the end, the hope is to recognize individual performance and to inspire and facilitate professional growth and development for the nurses.”

The program was designed with input from ambulatory nurses in dozens of care clinics and settings, such as pain management, rheumatology, neurology, gastrointestinal care and electrophysiology. Ambulatory APNs and RNs – not LPNs, who are considered care providers rather than direct caregivers – can apply for the program.

“By introducing the Clinical Advancement Program, we hope to accomplish many professional goals,” said Susan French, RN, MSN, acting chief nursing officer. “For example, they include improving job satisfaction, promoting the visibility of nursing excellence and fostering nurse collaboration with multidisciplinary teams. Our accomplished nurses continue to seek out new ways to challenge themselves, advance their skill levels and improve patient outcomes. Implementing this program recognizes their commitment to the profession and their leadership in advancing patient care.”