January 31, 2024

Professional Nursing Practice Program becomes Vanderbilt Professional Advancement and Recognition of Excellence

The Vanderbilt Professional Nursing Practice Program has transitioned to a new name — Vanderbilt Professional Advancement and Recognition of Excellence.

The Vanderbilt Professional Nursing Practice Program (VPNPP) has transitioned to a new name — Vanderbilt Professional Advancement and Recognition of Excellence (VPARE).

VPARE is a professional advancement program designed to recognize excellence among clinical staff members at Vanderbilt Health involved in patient care. Built on the Magnet framework and grounded in evidence-based practice, VPARE emphasizes the pivotal role of the nurse in achieving and maintaining a high standard of patient care through the nurse’s continuous improvement.

“Vanderbilt Health nurses do great work and should be recognized for it,” said Cathy Ivory, PhD, NI-BC, NEA-BC, associate nurse executive in the Office of Nursing Excellence.

VPARE will have the same goals and a similar structure as VPNPP had before, but the application process has been made simpler, and nurses will now be assigned a mentor to help them with the application, said Katherine Reeves, MPH, RN, senior nursing projects manager in the Office of Nursing Excellence. For example, instead of a previous requirement for nurses to write their professional story, they now have options to create a video, a voiceover in a PowerPoint presentation or other creative approaches.

“We really want to recognize the work that nurses are doing,” Reeves said.

The goals of VPARE are to:

  • Retain clinical nurses in direct patient care.
  • Recognize and reward nursing performance in accordance with indicators of clinical expertise and contribution to the team, department and organization.
  • Foster an environment that promotes high-quality patient care and contributes to positive patient outcomes.
  • Establish nursing performance standards across the clinical enterprise.

VPARE exists to promote, support, recognize, and reward growth within the role of the professional nurse as defined by internal and external practice standards, the context of the organization culture and external environmental influences.

The VPARE program includes progressive levels of nursing expertise, from RN2 to RN4, in which nurses can advance and be compensated. Nurse residents start at the RN1 level, and when they complete their residency, they advance to RN2. Then, opportunities to advance are available yearly. For example, after one year and by meeting program requirements, RN2s may advance to RN3. After an additional year and meeting requirements, RN3s may advance to RN4.

The transition from VPNPP to VPARE began about a year ago, Reeves said, following the formation of a steering committee and a review of the literature, which resulted in evidence- informed recommendations. Recommendations were brought to the Nursing Enterprise Cabinet for endorsement and additional suggestions.

“Combining those together, we changed the process to hopefully increase satisfaction for nurses, so that it honors their high level of work,” Reeves said.

Mentors, those who are RN3 or RN4, are needed and highly encouraged to apply at

For more information, please visit

If you have questions, or are interested in having someone from the VPARE team give a presentation at a staff meeting to discuss the changes, please email