Texas Health recently honored hundreds of nurses who participate in the Nursing Career Advancement Program, otherwise known as NCAP, at a special banquet.
The program helps Texas Health nurses who perform direct patient care stay at the bedside advance their careers through participation in shared governance, research and the promotion of evidence-based practice. NCAP nurses – Levels III through VI – benefit, not only from increased recognition and financial rewards, but also the opportunity to share their skills, stories and passions from their every day care. The program also helps recognize the various knowledge and skill levels of nurses.
"Part of Texas Health's high reliability journey and Our Texas Health PromiseSM is a commitment to ourselves and our patients to continually learn and improve," said Joan Clark, D.N.P., R.N., NEA-BC, CENP, FACHE, FAAN, senior vice president and chief nurse executive at Texas Health. "Patients trust us to care for them – and they trust that we are practicing at the top of our licenses. Over the last six years, we've seen exponential growth in the NCAP program, and we look forward to increased participation."
More than 1,000 nurses participated in the program through July 2016.
Since 2010, there has been a significant growth in the number of Level V nurses, the largest group of NCAP nurses, who are considered advanced experts and drive evidence-based practice innovation and change. In 2010, there were 181 Level V nurses. By 2016, there were nearly 600 Level V nurses. These nurses look for opportunities to implement changes that improve and sustain outcomes. Bachelor's-prepared Level V nurses have at least 9,500 hours of nursing practice, and master's-prepared Level V nurses have at least 7,500 hours of nursing practice.
Jennifer Meckley, B.S.N., RNC-NIC, (pictured above) is a Level V nurse in the NICU at Texas Health HEB. She joined NCAP in 2009 as a Level III nurse, and over the next six years became increasingly involved on her unit, eventually advancing to a Level V.
"I have been given more responsibility as I have advanced, and I feel so fortunate to be a part of this program," she said. "As a Level V nurse, I've worked on special projects that involve research and education, and the results of these projects are making a difference in our unit."
Texas Health also has seven Level VI nurses, the highest level of NCAP, who serve as leaders in evidence-based practice or IRB-approved research projects. These nurses are described as virtuoso and are seen as established in the art of nursing. They influence the practices that improve outcomes through role modeling in the hospital and community setting. Level VI nurses hold a Ph.D. or D.N.P. with 9,500 clinical hours achieved in their nursing career. A master's-prepared nurse may apply for Level VI if they have 11,500 clinical hours.
Watch this video about Texas Health's Level VI nurses.
"It's always impressive to see nurses take the time to look ahead toward the next stop on their journey – whether it is going for the next academic degree, mastering a specific area of nursing or seeking to improve your skills and abilities along the way," Joan said. "Our NCAP nurses' contributions through professional and clinical activities are helping bring forward new and invaluable ideas, techniques and enhancements in the way we deliver patient care."
Congratulations to all nurses who participate in NCAP!