Registered Nurse Carlos Vedia loves his job, and he’s ready to shout about it. “I tell everyone I know they should work in kidney care!” laughs the nurse, who worked as a patient care technician with DaVita for over a decade before earning his RN degree in 2021. Graduating from nursing school debt-free thanks to DaVita’s Bridge to Your Dreams program was a game-changer for Vedia and his family — especially because he became a father in the same year he became a nurse.
Launched in 2018 as a pilot program, Bridge to Your Dreams is a multi-dimensional program that supports DaVita teammates’ career growth while helping build the critical pipeline of trained nursing professionals. While DaVita has long offered generous tuition reimbursement, the company recognized that some teammates with high career potential could benefit from more support to reach their goals.
The program was initially designed to help PCTs and Licensed Practical Nurses pursue RN credentials, but this year DaVita has expanded application eligibility to invite all non-manager teammates, whether in clinical or non-clinical roles, to consider a nursing career. More than 1,000 teammates have been selected to participate in the program to date, and this summer a new cohort of 448 aspiring nurses will begin their journeys with Bridge to Your Dreams.
Program participants are selected once a year through an application process open to teammates who’ve been with DaVita for a minimum of 3 months. After receiving approval from their manager, teammates must complete a four-week online readiness course through Bright Horizons®, a DaVita educational partner.
For in-network schools, selected participants receive funding to complete their prerequisites and nursing classes at little to no cost. Once teammates have been admitted into an Associate’s Degree program, the option of reducing working hours to 24 hours per week enables a sustainable balance of work, life and school responsibilities. Participants also have access to professional support every step of the way from both Bright Horizons coaches and DaVita managers.
“Basic tuition reimbursement is great, and we have many clinical teammates who earn a nursing degree with that benefit alone,” explains Brittany Bohl, DaVita Education Benefits Program Manager. “But we knew we could do even more. Bridge to Your Dreams provides a remarkable level of personalized, hands-on guidance to teammates who have all the talent and drive needed for a nursing career, but benefit from a little more support to get there.”
“My facility administrator was very, very supportive,” explains Phuong Tran, who completed the program in 2020 and received her RN licensure in 2021. “She worked with me on scheduling, and that was essential to making this possible.”
Even so, Tran recalls, managing both full-time school and work was tough — but the rewards of a growing career are well worth it. “The decisions I make as an RN have a direct impact on patients’ well-being. It’s added pressure, but it’s also really rewarding. Having made it to this point is a huge feeling of accomplishment.”
Tran plans to build on her RN credentials by becoming a Nurse Preceptor at her clinic, and ultimately pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing.
With Bridge to Your Dreams, DaVita aims to cast the widest possible net for career advancement among high-potential teammates. Beyond basic financial support, the program considers teammates’ full life experience — including scheduling challenges, family responsibilities, professional development needs and more — and aims to open doors that might otherwise remain shut.
For Carlos Vedia, Bridge to Your Dreams delivered an affordable degree along with something less tangible, but just as important: the conviction that anything is possible. “Sometimes people feel like it’s too late to grow in your career, or the obstacles are too high,” says Vedia. “But I tell everybody that if I could take this step in the middle of my career, in the middle of the pandemic, while also taking care of my family, anyone can do it. You have to work hard, but if you’re with a company that has your back, there’s no limit to what you can achieve in this field.”