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Professional Excellence Program Helps Clinical Leaders Advance their Nursing Careers

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Michelle Braun on her first day as an ANM.
Michelle Braun on her first day as an ANM.

Professional and personal growth, strategic managerial and clinical skills and exemplary self-care are the areas assistant nurse managers (ANMs) in AdventHealth’s Professional Excellence Program (PEP) can develop on their clinical ladder journey.

For ANMs and clinical leaders in similar roles, the ANM PEP provides a wealth of opportunity for expanding clinical knowledge and expertise, and achieving a sense of professional and personal fulfillment – from level ANM2 up to ANM5. Michelle Braun, an ANM3 in the PEP who works in the AdventHealth for Children NICU, said she was very impressed with the framework used to develop the program.

“It was obvious the program was intentionally developed to enhance the role of the ANM within the organization while also improving our personal health,” said Braun.

Likewise, Nancy Pantoja, an ANM3 in the AdventHealth Winter Park surgical PCU, said the program has helped her map out her goals and become a better leader so her patients can have a better outcome.

Braun with her mobile flu cart.
Braun with her mobile flu cart

As a college student, Braun started her studies as a biology major, planning to enroll in medical school, but she recalls that “after spending the summer between freshman and sophomore year working as a tech on a nursing unit, I realized nursing was where my real passion was.” Braun loved the dynamic.

“I loved how the nurses on my unit interacted so much with the patients and the flexibility of nursing was appealing to me as well,” she added.

Braun always loved newborns. Growing up, she babysat often and cared for babies in the church nursery, which sparked her interest in that particular demographic. “For me, the NICU in particular was incredibly appealing because of getting to work with babies every day.”

While she was in nursing school, she worked as a tech on a labor and delivery/postpartum unit, and this further nurtured her desire to work with newborns and their families.

Braun became an AdventHealth team member in the fall of 2019, and a little more than a year later, in December 2020, became an ANM. She said the ANM PEP forces her out of her comfort zone and encourages her to take on new challenges and opportunities.

“I had the opportunity to try new roles, like flu champion, that I hadn’t considered before but did this year to get more points in one of the categories,” she said.

Nancy Pantoja, ANM in a surgical PCU
Nancy Pantoja, ANM in a surgical PCU

Pantoja started her nursing career in the armed forces as a combat medic; from there, she went through nursing school on her nights off. “It was very hard, and I had many challenges, but I stayed focused on what my goal was,” she said.

Pantoja shares the ANM PEP makes her feel whole. She’s become a health champion and has had the opportunity to take a variety of classes the program offers. “They have allowed me to develop myself,” she said.

The points-based activities in the self-care category of the program have also been beneficial to Braun’s health. “The program gives me great incentives to become more involved in my unit in different ways than what I am currently doing,” she added. “As I’ve seen how easy the program is to work with, I’ve been enthusiastically encouraging my fellow ANMs to participate and have also been challenging my direct reports to participate in the Nursing PEP [a clinical ladder for staff-level nurses].”

After taking a Wholesome Habits class for points in the ANM PEP, Braun is continuing to look for areas in her life where she can make positive changes, using the approach she learned through the class for setting reasonable and realistic goals. She has completed leadership classes through the AdventHealth Leadership Institute, including the Leading in AdventHealth program.

The ANM Professional Excellence Program is currently available in the Central and West Florida divisions with plans to launch in other regions soon.

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