Moving Up: Brown Medicine’s LPNs

The most import lesson in workforce development: Listen to your employees.

That’s exactly what Brown Medicine did, and through a partnership with Apprenticeship Rhode Island developed a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) Apprenticeship program; providing an opportunity for growth within the company that wasn’t available before.

“The number one motivator for us in developing this program with Apprenticeship RI was the feedback from our annual employee survey, where the medical assistants and secretaries said they didn’t feel they had a pathway for growth”, says Tammy Lederer, Chief Human Resources Officer. Apprenticeship RI worked with Tammy and members of the medical staff to develop a Registered Apprenticeship; a learn and earn model which incorporates industry standards, education and on-the-job training into a program with built-in wage increases as apprentices gain new skills.

Brown Medicine’s 2nd cohort of apprentices began in 2018 with three Medical Assistants; who took on the program’s challenging schedule of enrolling in the Practical Nurse program at the Community College of Rhode Island, while working full-time within their ambulatory practice site. No easy task when you consider that each of these women have families and responsibilities in addition to their work. But through it all they’ve gained valuable skills. Jennifer Barbosa states that she feels “more confident talking to patients” while Karissa Wellhausen shared that the “hands-on part was good for me, because it’s a challenge versus what I did as a Medical Assistant and I’m interested in the hands on skills and being able to do that stuff like feeding tubes and IV’s.”

While the work and educational requirements of the Apprenticeship were formidable, each of these women are grateful to Brown Medicine. “If it wasn’t for Brown Medicine initiating this and getting this started, I still feel like I would be saying “Oh maybe next year.  I feel like that was the biggest push for me,” says Jennifer. “If they didn’t do this I probably would still be contemplating how I could go back to school and finish.”

Brown Medicine’s Licensed Practical Nurse Apprenticeship was one of four nursing apprenticeship programs featured in a recent article by New America for its application and innovation. “We wanted to create a pathway for them to grow professionally, says Lederer, and this provided that opportunity”.  For these women, the apprenticeship provided a boost in reaching their career goals. “It has been challenging and we’ve passed it;” says Erin Tetreault, “we can go on, we can be nurses now.”