June 12, 2024

VUMC creating career development ladder for care partners

The program, which is optional, allows care partners to start at a Care Partner I position and progress to Care Partner II and Care Partner III.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center is developing a career development ladder for care partners to promote their professional development and retain them in the organization. The ladder will complement VUMC’s existing ladders for nurses and medical assistants.

“This is a performance-based program to recognize and professionally develop care partners,” said Christina Mathis, MSN, RN, GERO-BC, nurse manager of the Acute Care of the Elderly unit who is on the Care Partner Council.

The program, which is optional, allows care partners to start at a Care Partner I position and progress to Care Partner II and Care Partner III. Each progression requires them to stay in their role for one year and complete educational programs. The program, still under development, will roll out for inpatient care partner roles at all Vanderbilt Health hospitals, including regional hospitals.

“We want to give care partners the opportunity to showcase their work and provide excellent care, which leads to good outcomes for our patients,” said Paige Barnes, MSN, RN, CEN, CPPS, NEA-BC, nurse manager of the Transplant & Surgical Care Unit.

The program was shaped by care partners themselves through the Care Partner Council. At VUMC, care partners care for patients in the hospital setting under a registered nurse’s supervision. A care partner is a non-licensed position, meaning no specialized degree is required, and there are minimal qualifications to be considered as a candidate.

Care partners assist with the personal care of patients including:

• Bathing, feeding, toileting and changing beds.

• Aiding in daily activities (such as walking and sitting).

• Taking vital signs (temperature, blood pressure, heart

rate, breathing).

• Documenting computerized patient information.

To participate in the career development ladder program, care partners must be in good standing and work full or part time; PRN staff are not included. The advancement program is focused on four rubrics: quality patient care, professional development and professional practice, organizational development, and continuous learning.

Within each of the rubrics are professional standards. To advance in the program each year, care partners will share their professional stories and provide evidence that validates those professional standards.

“We are allowing them an opportunity to share about themselves and the great work they have done,” Mathis said. “We encourage them to become role models, be coaches, and take on opportunities within the unit level or the hospital level.

Opportunities include shared governance activities and other opportunities for improvement.”

Barnes said VUMC is also developing a mentor program for care partners as a part of the career ladder. The career ladder will complement VUMC’s Care Partner Academy, a tuition-free, paid program that trains individuals to become care partners. No prior health care education or experience is required for those who are selected to attend the academy, which consists of three weeks of sessions.