Career Ladders Strengthen Coordinators' Professional Development

Julie McCoy for HealthLeaders Media , October 12, 2010

Because the coordinator job has evolved over the past decade from clerical to administrative, departments realize they need coordinators with advanced project management and managerial skills to keep the program running smoothly and maintain accreditation, says Jeri L. Whitten, C-TAGME, pediatric program coordinator at West Virginia University, Charleston Division.

Institutions are taking steps to attract coordinators with higher skill levels, such as requiring a degree. Subsequently, institutions must also ensure that these higher-level employees will want to remain in their jobs. 

Whereas coordinator advancement was not important several years ago, more coordinators are now seeking professional development opportunities. 

“Someone with a degree isn’t going to stay in a job where there is no place to move up,” Whitten explains. “You need something to work toward—a new job level and salary increase.” 

 Career ladders provide this path for coordinators. 

“It is like physicians moving from assistant professor to associate professor. To move up, you have to meet certain criteria and prove excellence,” says Whitten.  

Additionally, career ladders are great for professions that are evolving, says Sandra Oliver, RN, PhD, senior director of GME at Scott & White Healthcare in Temple, TX. 

Scott & White implemented a four-tier career ladder that ensures coordinators’ efforts are focused on resident education, program management, and professional development. 

Because having clear job descriptions for every rung of the career ladder is essential for success, implementing the ladder provides an opportunity to redefine the coordinator’s role in the institution.

“In the past, program coordinators may have had a very important job making sure that food was at every single event,” Oliver says. “Now, we want to make sure that the program administrators are dealing with curriculum and administrative issues.”

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