DaVita Introduces Clinical Ladders to Help Foster Culture of Growth and Transparency for Nurses

BY TINA LIVAUDAIS | CHIEF NURSING OFFICER FOR DAVITA
 

When I started at DaVita as a patient care technician (PCT), I was in nursing school and wasn’t quite sure where my career would take me. I thought DaVita would be a brief stop in my professional journey—but quickly, I learned I had found a home where I could learn and grow, where the people supported and celebrated each other.
 

My passion for caring for people receiving dialysis then deepened when my grandmother was diagnosed with kidney disease. As I cared for my patients, I could see a little bit of my grandmother in them; and it inspired me to continue providing high quality and compassionate care.
 

In addition to finding this passion, I also found myself in an environment where my teammates (DaVita employees) and leadership supported me. At DaVita, our goal is to make it a place where everyone belongs, and I saw that come alive even in those early days.
 

It’s part of what made me stay.
 

As I earned my nursing degrees, I continued learning from not only leaders but also from the nurses and PCTs I worked with. And I was given opportunities to grow.
 

Now, as chief nursing officer, it’s important to me that our teammates have that same experience: I want teammates to feel that DaVita is a place where they can grow, from the moment of hire until they’re ready to retire.
 

Creating that culture, though, requires constant listening, evaluating and adapting. When I’m in centers with nurses, I try to listen to what’s on their minds and learn how I can serve them to make sure DaVita continues to be a place where they feel they’re seen, heard and valued.
 

And what I hear from our nurses is that they want transparency around their career trajectories, which is why I’m excited that we’ve introduced Clinical Ladders, a career-mapping model for nursing development.
 

This program will replace our existing three-tier advancement structure. Rooted in Benner’s theory on advancement and education in nursing, our clinical laddering system is designed to provide transparency and clarity for each of our nurses on how they can get to the next level of their career. It provides a clear, five-level structure for learning new clinical and technical skills while also providing opportunities for soft-skills development, like leadership. This way, no matter where a nurse is in their career, they can have a clear understanding of where they are on the laddering system and also the resources available to help get to the next level.
 

We began rolling this new process out in 2021, which has helped us promote 235 of our nurses in regions where this new career model has already been implemented. 
 

As we introduce this new structure into more regions across the U.S., I continue to be mindful of feedback. It’s still important to ask for and listen to feedback from our teammates. After all, my goal is to respond to my fellow nurses’ needs. We are in an industry and community where we are called on to provide for others, and it’s my intention to provide opportunities to help our nurses thrive. If we’re not serving them, I want to make sure our team is adjusting our approach.
 

DaVita prides itself on its commitment to teammates — creating a sense of belonging, supporting teammates’ sense of purpose in their work and to help them feel empowered and fulfilled. I believe introducing Clinical Ladders helps further that commitment by providing clear paths for advancement.