Interactive Portal Is Helping Nurses Navigate Their Career Path

Four career tracks offered

With 28,000+ nurses across its health system, Cleveland Clinic’s Nursing Institute is the largest of its 26 clinical institutes. And with more than 200 inpatient and outpatient facilities throughout Northeast Ohio, across the country and around the world, navigating one’s career can be exciting but daunting.

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“There are so many career paths you can take as a nurse,” says Kathy Mau, DNP, APRN, ACCNS-AG, ACNS-BC, Senior Director of Nursing Education and Professional Development. “Are you interested in a certain specialty? Do you aspire to becoming a nurse manager? The goal in our department is to guide nurses in the steps they need to take to get where they want to go professionally.”

Enter a comprehensive online portal designed to put career planning at nurses’ fingertips. It started two years ago when the Office of Nursing Education and Professional Development and the Institute’s Professional Development Council set out to identify developmental resources for Cleveland Clinic nurses. By late 2018 the team began creating an interactive user experience that allows nurses to chart their own professional path with the help of the new “Nursing Career Paths” platform.

The first section of the Nursing Career Paths portal is designed to introduce first-year nurses to the broad range of developmental opportunities at Cleveland Clinic. The second section features four career tracks that focus nurses on the steps they need to take to pursue their professional goals.

The four career tracks are Leadership, Clinical Expert, Advanced Practice and Specialty Nursing. Each track lays out developmental courses, experiential/exposure learning opportunities, and supporting activities. The portal enables nurses to ask questions, participate in discussions, watch videos and read blog entries on topics of interest.

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“We created an interactive user experience that allows nurses to explore their career options, set career goals, and identify opportunities for lifelong learning,” Dr. Mau explains. “And we continue to add content to support these different career tracks.”

The site was developed within Cleveland Clinic’s online education platform and is available exclusively for nurses. To create this interactive experience, Dr. Mau and her team partnered with Cleveland Clinic’s Global Leadership and Learning Institute, which has deep experience in developing educational tools and resources.

“Creating this site forced us to think through each career track and to develop it to its fullest potential,” says Dr. Mau. “Our purpose was to show nurses all the career opportunities and resources available to them within our health system and to make them easy to access. Of course, we want nurses to spend their entire careers working for Cleveland Clinic, and we needed a way to communicate and facilitate professional development.”

The portal features a smart single sign-on, and it is available from the Nursing intranet site so nurses can access learning content on demand when they have the time.

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The Portal in Practice

Nurse leaders are finding the Nursing Career Paths portal is also a great resource for helping nurses to set annual individual development goals. Many nurses at Cleveland Clinic Hillcrest Hospital are using the Career Paths, specifically in the ICU, where Samantha Connelly, MSN, RN, serves as Nurse Manager. “When the portal was first introduced to us in leadership meetings, I did some self-reflection by filling out the professional development sheet, and this also helped me learn how to navigate the site,” says Connelly. “Then I turned around and used it with my assistant nurse managers [ANMs] for their leadership growth.”

Now, Connelly says she and her ANMs use the portal as part of their weekly “5 with 5” – when they each spend five minutes with five nurses to do check-ins; they are also using it as a guide during annual reviews. During these meetings, nurse managers pull up the Nursing Career Paths portal to help in the development of their team members.

She says many on her team are now using the portal for career planning, as it was designed. She reports that four ICU nurses are taking the Leadership track, 12 are taking the Advanced Practice path, three are on the Nursing Education track, and 25 nurses are pursuing one of the Clinical Expert tracks.

Says Connelly, “The Career Paths portal has helped in developing our nurses, making our conversations more meaningful, and ensuring that the classes and opportunities we offer have real purpose.”