The Clinical Ladder program for nurses at North Alabama Medical Center provides an opportunity for professional development and enhanced quality of patient care. The program is proving to be a catalyst for inspiring nurse leadership and innovation. In 2018, 58 nurses participated in the program, up from 9 RNs in the program’s introductory year.
“The program was challenging but very rewarding. It’s an honor to be recognized as a Clinical Ladder participant. As part of my unique curriculum, I was able to present an in-service style learning opportunity for the Critical Care unit,” said Charity Rutherford, a Level III Clinical Ladder nurse.
As part of the program, participants focus on several areas of improvement including: professionalism, clinical skills, education, quality assurance and leadership. There is also an activity component where participants must complete volunteer hours, including skills fairs for their department and the hospital or community outreach programs. A wide scale of opportunities allows nurses to tailor the program to their interests and skillsets. For example, some nurses assisted with mentoring new employees, others were active in a national nursing organization, while some RNs helped write or revise nursing policies. The program also allowed these participants to be a leader amongst their peers by performing mock codes to keep staff ready for real life-threatening situation.
“Peer to peer education is truly effective. I am grateful so many of our nurses took the initiative to better their skills while at the same time making sure their co-workers were gaining valuable knowledge as well,” said Barry Hawthorne, Chief Nursing Officer at North Alabama Medical Center. “We are proud to have this program in place. Just because a nurse graduates with a degree doesn’t mean learning and furthering their career should come to a halt. It has also proven to be a satisfier. Nurses are always asking what we offer in terms of further education when they come for an interview.”
Level II and Level III Clinical Ladder options are available. Nurses must be in direct patient care areas and endorsed by their nurse leader. Participants earn a pay incentive for the completion of the program. Nurses must re-apply each year to maintain title and additional pay. This ongoing application and completion process continues to benefit North Alabama Medical Center, as new projects, processes and education plans are introduced each year to the nurse’s peers and the community.
Planning for 2019 curriculum is underway with the input from current participants on criteria. The program evolves each year to keep the content fresh and relevant.