Bridging Program helps develop and retain exceptional employees

Tennille Wright has been interested in wound care since starting her RN career. An Arnprior Regional Health (ARH) veteran of 15 years, Tennille jumped at the chance to complete her Skin Wellness Associate Nurse (SWAN) certification in 2023 with the financial support of the Employee Bridging Program.

“Because of the SWAN certification, my Inpatient Unit RN role has expanded, and I now dedicate one day a week to wound care at the Hospital and Grove Home. I am also looking to introduce staff education focused on preventative practices, ” Tennille shared. “Wound care is an important part of people’s care while they’re with us – we want to keep their skin free of injuries, so we don’t add to their health problems.”

Enhancing financial support for employees’ professional growth

Tennille is one of six ARH staff members who have participated in the Employee Bridging Program since it launched in the spring of 2022. Offered alongside the pre-existing Employee Bursary Fund, the Bridging Program provides staff who wish to upgrade their skills and education with increased financial support. The annual program is possible through long-term funding from the ARH Foundation. It allows staff to apply for up to $5,000 to bridge their education from PSW to RPN, RPN to RN, or to complete a new certification related to their work at ARH.

Full-time and part-time staff employed at ARH for at least one year are eligible to apply. They must sign a return of service agreement with ARH for a minimum of two years upon completing the Employee Bridging Program.

Building expertise to better care for the community

“Coming out of the COVID-19 emergency, we needed innovative retention strategies,” explained Andrea McClymont, VP, Human Resources, ARH. “We introduced the Bridging Program to retain great staff by supporting their goals and career growth. Two years in, it’s been a game-changer. The Program is helping us build teams across our Grove Home, Inpatient Unit, and Emergency Department with specialized skills, like wound care and critical care, to meet our community’s growing health needs.”

A year after Dillon Elder began working as an RN on the Inpatient Unit, he was accepted into the Bridging Program to pursue his Critical Care Registered Nurse Certification to work in more acute settings like the Emergency Department. Similarly, Stephanie Duncan, Tara McNicoll, and Kelly O’Rourke, RPNs from the Inpatient Unit, have enrolled in the Bridging Program to become RNs. Kirk Schilling, a ward clerk from the Inpatient Unit, and Alicia Powell, an HR assistant, are working toward becoming RPNs with the support of the Bridging Program.

“Part of why I decided to apply to the Bridging Program was to broaden my scope of practice so that I can care for more acutely ill patients, such as cardiac patients, and have the ability to transition to the Emergency Department,” said Stephanie. “The funding support helps ease the stress and anxiety of the financial burden of tuition, textbooks, and daycare fees.”

Kelly added: “I worked as a volunteer firefighter for ten years, so eventually, I knew I wanted to upgrade my education to the RN level so I could continue my emergency response role in the Emergency Department. The Bridging Program has allowed me to do this while working full-time on the Inpatient Unit.”