Vanderbilt University Medical Center has launched Vanderbilt Care Partner Academy (VCPA), a tuition-free, paid training opportunity for people interested in becoming care partners.
No prior health care education or experience is required for those who are selected to attend the academy, which consists of three weeks of sessions. A new class starts each month.
Regular pay starts immediately upon beginning training, and graduates can begin employment as a care partner in Vanderbilt University Hospital or Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.
“This is an opportunity for people inside and outside the organization, for those folks who would really like to get into health care, but they don’t know how,” said Rebecca Bone, EdD, MSN, RN, CNE, nursing education specialist and VCPA program lead and primary teacher. “Perhaps they don’t have the money to go to formal training. Something like that may cost them in the neighborhood of $1,000, and so this is a very unique program because they earn money while they’re here learning.”
At VUMC, care partners provide care to patients in the hospital setting under the supervision of a registered nurse. A care partner is a non-licensed position, meaning no specialized degree is required and there are minimal qualifications to be considered as a candidate.
Care partners assist with the personal care of patients, including:
Bathing, feeding, toileting and changing beds.
Aiding in daily activities (such as walking and sitting).
Taking vital signs (temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, breathing).
Documenting computerized patient information.
Vanderbilt’s Clinical Education & Professional Development team launched VCPA to expand the pool of applicants for care partner positions, said Carmen Mauldin, MSN, RN, CCRN-K, director of Clinical Education & Professional Development for the VUMC Central Team. Applicants for the academy can apply to any particular area that interests them on VUMC’s job board, she said.
“And then they can interview with the departments and make the decision with that hiring manager about what feels like the right fit for them before they get here,” she said.
New classes start monthly. The academy’s first class, with 12 participants, started in June. Starting in August, the Care Partner Academy will offer participants the option of working at Vanderbilt Wilson County Hospital (VWCH) as a patient care tech, which is the term used at VWCH instead of care partner.
VCPA trainees are considered full-time employees, receive paid training and are eligible for benefits. Trainees must be 18 years or older, have a high school diploma or GED and pass a background check, among other requirements. The program is available to current VUMC employees as well as non-employees.
The initial three-week program — which runs from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday — consists of two weeks of classroom instruction, including skills practice on mannequins, and one week of clinical skill training/practice in a clinical area.
After the initial three weeks, a preceptor will provide additional unit-specific orientation. The length of orientation and shifts will vary by unit and schedule.
Trainees learn about the basics of patient care, including commonly used hospital equipment and functioning as an important member of the nursing team. They learn about communicating with patients and their families, medical terminology and technology and certification in basic life support.
Learning these foundational skills may lead care partners to later pursue opportunities in nursing, if they so choose, Mauldin said.
Participants who elect to work at Children’s Hospital will receive specialized education, said Kathryn Collier, RN, clinical education facilitator for Nursing Education & Professional Development.
“Caring for children is a little bit different than adults when you move past that basic, foundational knowledge,” she said. “We’re going to spend a couple of days with our participants who will take jobs in the pediatric care partner role just covering content that is specific to pediatrics. Then, their clinicals will take place in a unit that is similar to where they will work.”
Mauldin said the program is designed to create not only a recruitment tool for care partners, but also aims to retain care partners by creating continuing education and mentorship opportunities.
“We viewed this as an opportunity to create an efficient onboarding process that allows people to come out prepared to care for our unique patient populations,” she said.
For more information about VCPA and to apply, visit https://www.vumc.org/vanderbilt-nursing/vcpa.