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Keywords:

  • certification;
  • baccalaureate completion;
  • advanced nursing degrees;
  • tuition reimbursement;
  • IOM 2010;
  • healthcare reform

Paper Presentation

  1. Top of page
  2. Paper Presentation

Purpose for the Program

As a Magnet-designated facility, we encourage our nurses to consider completing their baccalaureate degree, obtain a specialty certification, or return to school to obtain a masters or doctoral degree. Responses from these nurses often include: “I don't even know where to start,” “I think I'm too old,” and “It's too expensive. I can't afford it.” The Institute of Medicine and experts such as Dr. Patricia Benner have long advocated the baccalaureate degree as the minimum education required for entry into nursing practice. Many existing nurses who completed a diploma or associate degree program are overwhelmed by the idea of returning to school.

Proposed Change

An innovative program was developed to offer counseling/referral for nurses interested in educational opportunities and professional growth. After the pilot this program was opened to nurses at all sites/locations within the St. Luke's Healthcare System. Components of this program include a referral into the program, an initial questionnaire, preparation of materials, a confidential one-on-one meeting with the participant, and a follow-up questionnaire.

Overwhelming response has resulted in expanding and dividing the program into two groups. The first group includes those staff members who are not clinical but desire a clinical career. The second group includes those staff members who are not clinical and do not want a clinical position but desire professional growth. This resulted in a significant increase in volume and an opportunity to partner with organizational development.

Implementation, Outcomes, and Evaluation

Before the program was piloted in the fall of 2009, much care was given to the creation of forms, data tracking, and an electronic database of various nursing programs, which identify the admission process, prerequisites, application deadline, contact information, and costs associated with each program. Additional program information was prepared, including information on tuition reimbursement, certification prepayment, and scholarships offered by the healthcare system. The “Yes, You Can!” program has provided services to more than 280 participants in 3 years.

Implications for Nursing Practice

Assisting interested and motivated nurses in navigating the process toward a specialty certification and/or furthering their education is of benefit to all. The individual nurse benefits personally and perhaps financially from furthering his/her education. The employer benefits from the added knowledge and new ways of thinking. The patients benefit from the nurses advanced education and their ability to integrate and synthesize.