Mumblings surrounding the nursing transition program at Sampson Regional Medical Center are causing a stir among some of the staff who have been employed with the hospital for many years.
The transition, Amber Cava, VP of Marketing for SRMC, said, is intended to better serve the patients and and provide growth opportunities for the Licensed Practical Nurses who are working for the healthcare facility.
According to Cava, the hospital is working to transition LPNs to registered nurses in the acute care areas of the hospital. Those settings are defined by SRMC as medical-surgical, obstetrics, emergency department, intensive care unit and post anesthesia care unit.
“We have an outstanding group of LPNs in the acute care setting, with many years of nursing experience,” Cava said. “As nursing has changed over the years, the scope of care a LPN can provide is no longer the common level of care in the acute care setting.”
In an effort to keep what Cava called a “valuable staff” on hand at the hospital, the administrators have implemented a transition program to provide growth opportunities for the LPNs to become RNs and to continue providing excellent nursing care under a RN licensure.
In the hospital setting, LPNs must be supervised by an RN, similar to the dependent-independent relationship of a physician assistant and physician. Many limitations are set on the type of care an LPN can provide to patients, therefore RNs are required to be in the acute care settings.
“Our LPNs are very good nurses,” Cava stressed. “They are smart and experienced and provide excellent care to our patients. However, there are still some limitations in how they can practice.”
Due to those limitations, the standard of care for staffing on an acute care unit has shifted over the years from an LPN-RN mix, to an all RN staff. According to Cava, it is common in most hospitals to have an all RN staff in the acute care setting, and many hospitals are even moving to an all BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) staffing model.
“This is all being done so that we can offer our patients the best care possible,” Cava said. “We are committed to keeping our LPNs employed at Sampson Regional Medical Center. To that end, our transition program was designed to give LPNs time to evaluate their options and develop a personal plan that supports their career goals.”
The LPN staff at the hospital who are working in an acute care setting, were offered the opportunity to further their education and return to school and become and RN, or for those who may be closer to retirement, but want to continue working as an LPN, Cava said they will be located in a setting at the hospital that doesn’t require acute care.
“Some of our LPNs have started making plans to enroll in nursing programs to gain RN licensure, while others who are closer to retirement or who do not desire to seek RN licensure have expressed interest in pursuing other positions within the organization,” Cava said. “We support those staff who want to transfer to other positions within the organization, and our Human Resources department is working with them to identify new opportunities.”
The hospital, Cava shared, does recognize the years and level of service these nurses have given to the hospital, while at the same time complying to the standards implemented by the Board of Nursing, who defines the scope of work for nurses.
“We have a responsibility to maintain best practices and follow recommendations for standard of care,” Cava said. “Adapting to these standards has necessitated a transition plan to move our acute care units to an all RN staffing model. In doing so, we recognized the impact this would have on LPNs. We did not want them to be displaced by this change, so we were very intentional in developing a transition plan that gives the opportunity for LPNs to work toward RN licensure. Our nursing leadership and HR department remain committed to assisting these individuals in identifying their career path and support them through the process.”
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.