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Article Eleven — Education Programs

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11.1 Staff Development Policy.

Subject to budgetary restraints, and recognizing the necessity for flexibility and adaptation to changed circumstances, purposes and philosophies, the Employer shall continue its policy regarding the following:

11.1.1 Orientation.

A planned orientation program is provided for new Employees.  A policy of reduced workload for the orientee and those involved in orientation is in effect within the discretion of the Regional Administrator or Department Head, as applicable, or designee, which shall not be arbitrarily exercised.  The Union will designate one (1) RN or LPN, and one (1) alternate RN or LPN to give a presentation for a half hour at the first orientation class of new Employees.  A new Employee may continue to have a reduced workload after orientation for a limited period of time during the probationary period at the discretion of the Regional Administrator or Department Head, as applicable, or designee.  All new Employees will work five (5) days per week, seven and one-quarter (7.25) hours per day, during this orientation period.

11.1.2 Inservice/Outservice.

An inservice education program designed to further the operational needs of the Employer and, in coordination therewith and for the same purpose, time off without loss of pay, financial aid for participation in educational institutes, programs and workshops as approved by the Employer, which approval shall not be unreasonably denied in the light of staffing requirements and the costs related to educational institutes, programs or workshops.

11.1.3 Upgrading Nursing Skills.

It is the policy of the Employer to upgrade the skills of its nursing staff by familiarizing them with procedures and practices new to the nurse that are directly related to the patient's care. The application of this provision shall not be subject to the grievance and arbitration provisions of this Agreement.

11.1.4 Orientation to New Program.

It is the policy of the Employer to orient appropriately an Employee transferring into another program.

11.1.5 Continuing Staff Development.

As the changing health care environment places new and additional responsibilities on the nursing staff, the Employer recognizes the continuing need to provide appropriate orientation and in-service education necessary for a flexible adaptation to these new circumstances.

11.2 Foreign Language Courses.

The Employer will reimburse eligible Employees for the full cost of foreign language classes to a maximum of one hundred fifty ($150.00) dollars upon submission of a receipt of payment and evidence that the course has been successfully completed.  This reimbursement is limited to one such course in one calendar year.  Eligibility for reimbursement is based upon the following criteria as determined by the Regional Administrator or Department Head, as applicable, or designee:

  1. The Regional Administrator or Department Head, as applicable, or designee, must approve in advance the need for the use of the foreign language in connection with the Employee's work or work contemplated in the immediate future.
  2. The Employee must be working in an area where communicating in the foreign language would be of assistance in providing service to an appreciable portion of the patients.
  3. The course must be taken during off duty time and no reimbursement will be made for time spent in classes.

11.3 Tuition Refund.

The Employer shall maintain for Regular Full-time Employees a Tuition Refund Program providing for reimbursement of Tuition paid by an Employee for Covered Courses in accordance with the following:

11.3.1 Covered Courses.

Covered Courses.  Courses leading to an A.A.S. or B.S. in Nursing.

11.3.2 Covered Credits.

Tuition Refund will be provided for a maximum of eighteen (18) credits per calendar year.

11.3.3 Eligible Employees.

A Regular Full-Time Employee who has completed six (6) months of service with the Employer is eligible for the Tuition Refund Program; other Employees, including Regular Part-Time Employees, Other Part-Time Employees, Temporary Employees, Per Diem Employees and Employees on Leaves of Absence are not eligible.

11.3.4 Time of Refund.

Tuition refund will be made under the Tuition Refund Program upon successful completion (i.e., with a passing grade) of a Covered Course and presentation of proof (i.e., College Transcript) of such successful completion.

11.3.5 Commitment Period.

Employees who receive a Tuition Refund pursuant to Paragraph 11.3 must commit to one year of employment from the date of the Tuition Refund payment pursuant to Paragraph 11.3.4 (“Commitment Period”).  Employees who resign before the end of this Commitment Period must, at the time of separation, repay the Tuition Refund.  An Employee who becomes a Registered Nurse and applies for and is not offered an RN position by the Employer for which the Employee is qualified within six (6) months of becoming licensed as an RN shall not be subject to the remainder of the Commitment Period. Notwithstanding the foregoing, an Employee who resigns during the Commitment Period because of injury or illness shall not be required to repay the Tuition Refund.  The Employee shall be required to provide medical documentation showing that he/she is unable to return to work during the Commitment Period.

11.4 Scheduling for Education Time.

.  Subject to the discretion of the Regional Administrator or Department Head, as applicable, or designee, in order to maintain effective and efficient operations, a Regular Full-Time Employee who has completed six (6) months of service may be permitted to use a maximum of two (2) hours per week of accrued vacation, or personal time for the period of one (1) semester to attend degree program educational classes not given during non-working hours.  The two (2) hours for class time must be scheduled at either the beginning or the end of the day in order that the Employer can continue to operate effectively.  Use of accrued time in this manner will be limited to one (1) two-year (2) period during employment.  Where more than one (1) Employee is involved, the Regional Administrator or Department Head, as applicable, or designee, shall take into account seniority in exercising his or her discretion under this Section.  Proof of course schedules may be required by the supervisor.

11.5 Tuition Loan Program.

In order to supplement VNS's RN Recruitment Program, the parties agree as follows:

  1. tuition loan program to assist Per Diem LPN's to become RN employees of VNS is in effect.
  2.   Under the LPN Tuition Loan Program, Per Diem LPN's with one (1) year of service with VNS who either (i) as per visit Employees, meet the requirements of the Per Diem "Plus" Program, or (ii) as Per Diem hourly Employees, agree to work a minimum of 1, 000 hours per year as scheduled by the Employer; and (iii) who have a satisfactory work record, will be eligible for tuition loans subject to the limitations and conditions provided for under the LPN Tuition Program applicable to Regular Full-Time Employees under Article 11.3 of the parties’ Agreement to pursue an A.A.S. or B.S. in Nursing.  There shall be a yearly maximum loan to each participating LPN of $5,250.00.  Also, while there is no overall limitation on the number of eligible Per Diem LPNs that can participate in this Tuition Loan Program at any one time, up to two (2) eligible Per Diem LPNs may participate in the first year of the Program and two (2) more eligible Per Diem LPNs may be added as new participants in the Program in each succeeding year thereafter.  Each year the Employer will announce an open period in which eligible Per Diem LPNs may apply for a tuition loan for the upcoming year.  If more than two (2) eligible Per Diem LPNs apply during the open period, the two Employees with the earliest dates of hire will be approved for participation during the forthcoming year.
  3. An amount equal to one third (1/3) of the total of tuition loans to an Employee under this Program shall be forgiven upon the Employee's completion of each year of service as a Regular Full-Time RN employee of VNS, or as a Per Diem RN COC employee of VNS, with the total loan forgiven after three (3) years of RN service.
  4. A tuition loan under the Tuition Loan Program, or any remaining unforgiven portion of such loan, shall become immediately repayable, with interest at the then prime rate of interest (i) upon termination of the Employee's employment with VNS, (ii) upon the Employee's failure to accept an RN position with VNS after completion of the A.A.S. degree program or to continue in employment as a VNS RN, as described above, until total forgiveness of the loan, provided that a period of layoff shall not be treated as a failure to continue employment, or (iii) upon such LPN's failure to meet the work requirements for continued participation in this Tuition Loan Program, as described herein, or failure to obtain such A.A.S. or B.S. degree within a reasonable period of time under the circumstances.
  5. As a condition to participate in the LPN Tuition Loan Program, an Employee shall be required to execute a legally binding loan agreement and promissory note incorporating all of the foregoing requirements and conditions.