Climbing the Clinical Ladder (from a new grad’s perspective)
Just weeks into my new graduate orientation to the Emergency Department, my educator sat down with me to explain the clinical ladder process. I remember thinking, “There is no way I’m going to be able to do this within a year.” Now, just a little over a year later, I am excited to say I am officially a CNI!
Even before completing my first year of nursing (the minimum time needed to qualify for the clinical ladder), I began looking into how to apply and meet criteria for a Level I. My preceptor is very active in the clinical ladder and she, my educator, and other nurses on my unit who are already on the ladder, helped me develop my application. In doing so, I quickly learned how things I do every day on my unit qualify. Having students shadow my day, participating in the Evidence-Based Practice Fair, and HOT cards others had written about me all went towards my portfolio.
My interview was unit-based, meaning I had a panel interview with my educators, my manager, and a charge nurse on the leadership team. I explained how climbing the clinical ladder was something I felt was important to my nursing career. To me, nursing is a profession, not just a job.
I really enjoyed my interview and felt it was very “low pressure”, as they say. I was happy to interview with people I knew and who have seen me grow from new grad nurse to ED nurse over the past year. They gave me interview tips and helped me reflect on my time as a new grad, and they continue to encourage me to maintain my portfolio towards a Level II next year.
Climbing the clinical ladder is something I’m proud to have accomplished. Some may assume that it is difficult and time consuming, but I’m proof of just how easy it can be. People are excited to help you, and if I can do it, so can you! –Caroline Levin, RN