Nurses further their careers - and patients benefit

Giving 100 percent during the work day makes an enormous impact. But when co-workers devote the same time and commitment to their careers off-the-clock, the results can be profound.

To encourage our nurses' professional development, several Wellmont Health System hospitals have implemented a Clinical Achievement Program - CAP -to earn points and achievement levels through education, mentoring and other channels. As part of CAP, Wellmont nurses have provided health screenings for underprivileged people, participated in charity 5Ks, taught continuing medical education classes and volunteered with community organizations.

"Completing levels in CAP is a win-win situation. Our nurses can advance in their careers, which helps them, while they also develop better bedside skills and knowledge, which is a tremendous asset for our patients," said Kelly Jo Sexton, clinical leader in Bristol Regional Medical Center's Birthing Center.

Sexton knows what she's talking about - the Birthing Center's patient satisfaction scores consistently rank impressively in the 99th percentile, when compared to similarly sized hospitals. And an overwhelming majority of the department's nurses have achieved one or more CAP levels, which stands as a testament to their hours of commitment outside the hospital.

"Our scores are, without a doubt, correlated with the fact that each nurse in the Birthing Center is engaged with hospital and community events through CAP," Sexton said.