PEAK Program at Tahoe Forest Health System Supports Personal and Professional Development of Nursing Staff

Nurses of TFHS winter hiking with backdrop of snowy mountain

In October 2022, Tahoe Forest Health System launched a custom, evidence-based nursing clinical ladder that promotes bedside nurses’ personal and professional growth. The clinical ladder, named the PEAK Program, recognizes and rewards staff nurses for furthering their knowledge, skills, attitudes, and abilities.

PEAK stands for “Professional Excellence, Advancement, and Kudos” and has 3 tiers named after local summits: Martis Peak, Mount Judah, and Mount Rose. The tiers are based on Patricia Benner’s “Novice to Expert” model which influenced many healthcare organizations to develop a structure to advance nursing practice. Nursing clinical ladders were first introduced in the 1970’s as a way to engage bedside nurses and provide opportunities for career growth.

“The PEAK Program’s goals are to improve staff engagement and elevate personal and professional development, while improving patient care, safety, quality, value, and outcomes,” says Damara Stone, RN, who developed and launched the PEAK Program at Tahoe Forest. “The response has been incredible! We have over 60 nurses from 10 different care areas participating in the program. They have developed projects ranging from care for the caregiver activities, process improvement projects, patient education, staff development, and so much more.”

The nurses are required to accrue points in 4 different categories that align with the mission, vision, and values of the health system: Caring/Compassion, Competency, Community/Family, and Quality/Evidence-Based Practice. The nurses build a professional portfolio highlighting their accomplishments, and, if approved, earn a bonus.

“The goal is to expand to other disciplines in the Health System. We just launched the PEAK Program for Therapy Services and other departments have expressed interest as well,” says Stone. Research shows that clinical ladders enhance staff nurse recruitment, retention, and job satisfaction while contributing to patient safety and outcomes.

“The PEAK Program has created a culture of excellence and professionalism with the nursing team, fostering a sense of pride and accomplishment among the staff members. I am proud to be a part of an organization that values and invests in the development of its nursing staff,” says Arlette Tormey, Infusion Nurse at the Tahoe Forest Cancer Center.

National Nurses Week is observed May 6 - 12. Join Tahoe Forest Health System in celebrating the invaluable contributions of nurses and the nursing profession that impact the health and well-being of our communities.

Photo: TFHS nurses at the most recent PEAK Program picnic and hike. Pictured L to R: Cora Killian, Med Surg; Tammy Melrose, Women & Family Center; Sam Buoncristiani, Urgent Care, with son Grant; Camille Beck, Primary Care, with son Kai

May 6, 2024