Nurses Lead the Way

In the past, the profession of nursing was strictly limited to a role requiring little more than basic assistance. Though nurses were often recognized for providing the comfort in medicine and excellence in surgical support, rare was the nurse who was a pioneer in her field. Not anymore. Today nurses are the front-line providers who monitor and meet patient needs; serve as patient and family advocates, and provide leadership in all aspects of health care.

And Packard Children’s is leading the way in creating opportunities for nurses to excel.

“Nurses are in the ideal position to observe patient needs and identify opportunities to improve care,” says Amy Nichols, EDD, CNS, RN, director of the Center for Nursing Excellence. “They are a powerful force for positive change for the children and expectant mothers—and their families—who come to Packard Children’s.”

To encourage professional development among clinical nurses, Packard Children’s launched the Professional Nurse Development Program (PNDP). The goal of the program is to allow nurses to create a portfolio that illustrates their understanding of their work and their ability to provide the highest quality of patient care.

“The program recognizes and rewards extraordinary nurses who demonstrate a special way of advocating for families, caring for children, and teaching their colleagues,” Nichols says. “It allows Packard Children’s to attract and retain our top experts as well as encourage nurses to strive for professional excellence.”

The PNDP, which was introduced in summer 2011, is the system for nurses to advance to Clinical Nurse III or IV throughout the hospital. Applicants must put together a portfolio that highlights their qualifications and make a presentation to a panel of peers.

“I have heard extremely positive reactions from the nurses who have taken part so far. They use words like accountability, recognition, pride, commitment, passion, and challenge,” Nichols says. “We are shifting our culture to celebrate nursing professionalism. I think the program helps nurses acknowledge their own contributions and accomplishments.”

The Center for Nursing Excellence created a number of resources to support applicants through the process. It created print and online toolkits that include tips like deadline reminders, presentation guidelines, required signatures, and a preliminary assessment tool. It also offers a number of free, Continuing Education classes on topics such as preparing a resume and compiling a portfolio. Applicants can arrange for coaching sessions with a specially trained nurse manager, who ensures eligibility, provides advice, and reviews the portfolio before it is submitted.

Nichols says she has seen the impact of the PNDP throughout the hospital. Volunteerism has increased, she says, and there has been increased interest in educational opportunities, community service, and advanced nursing degrees.


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