In September 2003, the Nursing Practice Council developed the Clinical Advancement Program (CAP), which rewards nurses who advance practice through research, mentoring, and collaboration. This process is independent from the annual performance appraisal. Nurses from the Practice, Research, and Leadership councils designed the program to reward nurses who go beyond excellent bedside care.
The program is based on Benner’s novice-to-expert theory. The Novice level is reserved for nurses in orientation. Having completed all of the orientation requirements, the nurse would be designated as Proficient, the second level in the CAP. This is where the majority of nurses fit. At the Proficient level, the nurse demonstrates a sound clinical base, the abilities to organize and prioritize patient care tasks, flexibility and adaptability to changes in patient needs, an awareness of his/her own learning needs, and a basic level of support and participation in professional activities away from the bedside. Nurses in the Proficient level may have various educational degrees, anywhere from an associate’s degree to master’s preparation.
The last two levels, Clinician One and Clinician Two, apply to nurses who advance nursing practice by not only providing excellent care but also by taking active roles in mentoring, research, performance improvement, and education. A nurse applying to the Clinician One level must have at least an associate’s degree and a specialty certification or a baccalaureate degree. A nurse applying for Clinician Two designation must have at least a baccalaureate degree in nursing and a specialty certification, or she/he must have a master’s degree in nursing.
The Clinician One and Clinician Two levels are further differentiated by their involvement in the activities listed above. While both Clinician One and Clinician Two levels demand substantial professional involvement beyond bedside care, the Clinician Two criteria demand not only participation, but also leadership and demonstration of a proactive approach in meeting the needs of patient populations, the organization, and the profession.
Nurses who wish to be leveled as Clinician One or Two submit an application to the CAP Review Board, which is composed of practicing nurses. Nurses who earn Clinician I or II recognition are rewarded with an educational stipend, to be used on any combination of professional dues, journal subscriptions, continuing education, reference materials, etc. Nurses may reapply annually.
While participation in the CAP was initially limited to clinical nurses, the Nursing Practice Council recently directed the CAP Review Board to expand the CAP to also include non-clinical, non-management nurses.