PMH nurses climb the clinical ladder


Person Memorial Hospital’s effort to improve patient care took a big step forward Friday with the promotion of five nurses who have completed a year-long training and professional development program.

Called the clinical ladder, the program gives participants a chance to improve their skills, lead educational efforts and to work in the preceptor program which pairs new nurses with veterans.

On Friday, the five nurses – Wanda Birch, Patsy Clayton, Dawn Wilkerson, Lisa Hodges and Renee Holt – turned in their RN II badges for new ones which pronounced them as RN IIIs.

Interim Chief Nursing Officer Merita Burney said this marks the first time nurses at PMH were able to extend their skills beyond the RN II level.

“This helps them grow in their bedside skills. A lot of times when someone gets an advanced degree they want to leave the bedside to work in a doctor’s office or in administration, but we want our best nurses to stay by the bedside,” Burney said.

Fridays graduates, Burney said, are the cream of the crop.

“These nurses have demonstrated that they are five of the best we have here,” Burney said.

Entry into the program is a not a given for every nurse who wants to earn the training. Participants have to be recommended by their department director and they have to approve of them being promoted up if they complete the program,” Burney said.

The clinical ladder program requires participants to meet a diverse set of standards. They must volunteer to participate in local health fairs or educational programs, they must lead process improvement initiatives in the hospital and they must participate in the work of hospital committees, such as the nursing council or the hospital quality committee.

Burney said the accomplishments of the members of this first class in the clinical ladder are important because it puts and emphasis on patient care. The clinical ladder program can also be a recruitment and retention tool for the hospital’s HR department as they work to bring on new staff and as they try to keep staff members engaged in what they are doing at PMH.

“There’s a lot that goes into this,” Burney said. “To be a good nurse, you have to be well-rounded. To teach other nurses, you have to know what you’re talking about. These are the ones that don’t mind going out and being an example to other nurses.”

Person Memorial CEO David Ziolkowski says the program aims to recognize the hospital’s best nurses and by extension, keep them in the fold. “Ultimately we want to provide the best care for the residents of Person County that we can and one way we do that is by keeping our very best nurses here,” Ziolkowski said.


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