“There is so much benefit to growing our own nurses,” said Sarah Kaufmann, Administrator of Assisted Living at Lutheran Hillside Village in Peoria, Illinois. “We help them meet their goals, while also knowing we are instilling the values that will make them an asset to Lutheran Senior Services.”
Sarah and Barb Cooper, Nursing Supervisor at Lutheran Hillside Village, as well as Holly Stevens, Administrator of the Care Center at Breeze Park Senior Living in Weldon Spring, Missouri, each are invested in cultivating team member talent. They believe that investing in an environment of growth and mentorship for team members provides personal benefits for team members, their communities, and the residents they serve.
“Building a sense of belonging and investing in them helps with retention. And for succession planning, I like to promote from within and see people grow and develop based on their talents,” said Holly.
LSS offers a number of benefits to support educational pursuits, such as scholarships, tuition discounts, and tuition reimbursement.
“From the very beginning, we plant the seed by talking about tuition reimbursement benefits,” said Sarah. “We want to foster growth. So, I let them know we are here to support them in whatever they want to do in the future. If going back to school is in your goals, we have tools to help.”
Holly especially enjoys mentoring new nurses. She invites nursing students to tour Breeze Park to inspire their interest and help them see a career path. “I want people to know that they can grow and still stay with us,” said Holly. “I want to know what their goals are and how we can help achieve them.”
Sarah shared the example of one of her team members, Kasey, who has grown from a CNA to an RN. “I hired her as a brand-new nurse out of LPN school,” recalled Sarah. Kasey had been a CNA, and this was her first LPN job. She excelled in her role but wanted to grow further. Thanks to scholarships from LSS and support from leadership and her team members, Kasey has earned her RN and is ready to take on new roles at LSS.
“I have Kasey’s graduation photo on the wall of my office next to the photo of my parents. I’m so proud of her,” said Sarah. “She has grown so much in the last couple of years, especially her leadership abilities, not only with nursing but building relationships with staff and the values that are instilled. That’s what I mean by ‘growing our own.’ As a leader I take pride in staff meeting their full potential,” she added.
At Breeze Park, a similar success story unfolded where Karen grew from a REACH Charge Nurse to Clinical Educator to now Assistant Director of Nursing. She is graduating with her BSN shortly!
Barb, Sarah, and Holly provide flexibility in schedules to make attending classes and completing coursework feasible.
“It can be hard to go back to school and work full time,” said Barb. “We will do whatever we have to do for you to succeed. We will change schedules and be as flexible as possible to make it work.”
Providing a cheering section for these team members who are pursuing education while working is also important. Barb, Sarah, and Holly all make sure to celebrate their team members’ milestones with signs, parties, and even notes on the schedule to make sure everyone is in the loop and congratulates them.
“The other team members are so proud. Everyone is really supportive,” said Sarah.
Career growth can look different for each person. While some wish to pursue new designations, others prefer to lean into a role they love, added Barb. “If you want to be a CNA for 30 years and be the best CNA you can be, we applaud you. If you want to become an LPN or an RN, we support that, too.”