January 6, 2011

Nursing advancement program graduates first student

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Kathey Milom is the first licensed practical nurse to advance through the Vanderbilt Professional Nursing Practice Program. (photo by Anne Rayner)

Nursing advancement program graduates first student

With 34 years in the nursing field, Kathey Milom recently became the first licensed practical nurse to advance through the Vanderbilt Professional Nursing Practice Program (VPNPP).

Previously the program was for registered nurses only.

Milom started at the Digestive Disease Center in July 2009, and within a matter of months was establishing programs that not only improved patient care but also streamlined workflow and increased cost-effectiveness.

“I had Kathey pegged the very first night I interviewed her,” said Clinic Manager Sherry Raber, B.S.N., R.N. “She was very composed and very seasoned and threw out a lot of great ideas.”

When VPNPP announced its advancement program for L.P.N.s earlier this year, there was no question that Milom should be the first to climb the ladder.

“It feels really good to finally be recognized by one of the most magnificent hospitals in the nation. No one else has ever given me the opportunities Vanderbilt has, and I'm the happiest I have ever been in nursing,” Milom said. “If this had occurred when I was 22, there's no telling where I could be today.”

VPNPP uses self, peer and manager evaluation to recognize and reward clinical nursing expertise with one of four levels. All nurses with more than 12 months of experience are at Level 2. Advancing to Level 3 or 4 requires submitting an advancement package to VPNPP, making a presentation and participating in an interview.

“We encourage nurses to work on their advancement because most of them are practicing at a high level already,” said James Barnett, M.S.N., R.N., program manager for VPNPP. “If they were sitting in any break room talking about nursing care, they wouldn't hesitate to step up and talk about their skills. If they do that same thing formally with VPNPP, we can recognize and compensate them for it.”

Vanderbilt created an advancement program for registered nurses a decade ago, which served as the model for the new L.P.N. advancement program.

In just under 18 months with the Digestive Disease Center, Milom has proved that she practices at Level 4.

After seeing patients struggle to afford their medication, she started doing patient assistance and was named coordinator.

She continued that work but added case management in the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Clinic, teaching patients about their disease process.

Since January, Milom has established a weekly case management team meeting and set up a flagging system to be notified when patients visit the emergency department or are admitted to the hospital. She has also devised a way for patients to be billed for educational visits, increasing cost-effectiveness.

Milom started preparing for her advancement in February by collecting data about her work in a three-ring binder. She encourages all nurses to take the effort to advance.

“I don't understand what they're waiting for,” she said. “Whether you're new to Vanderbilt or have been here for 10 years or more, everyone should start to move forward and not miss out on a great opportunity.”