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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 over a period of approximately six (6) weeks for new nurses.  A policy of reduced caseload 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) Registered Nurse (and one (1) alternate Registered Nurse) to give a presentation for a half hour at the first orientation class of new Registered Nurses. VNS will schedule the half hour for the Union portion of the Orientation Program to begin promptly at 4:00 p.m.  Orientees may stay over on a voluntary basis to ask questions or hear more from the Registered Nurse Representative. A new Employee may continue to have a reduced caseload 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.  New Employees assigned to the Infusion Program will complete the aforementioned orientation, as well as orientation focusing on infusion care services that is approved by the department head or designee.

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 a Registered Nurse transferring into another program.

11.1.5 Inservice Education Committee.

There shall be an Inservice Education Committee in each Region/Program composed of two (2) representatives appointed by the Union and two (2) representatives appointed by VNSNY Home Care to make recommendations regarding inservice education to the Regional Administrator or Department Head, as applicable, or designee, who will communicate with the Chief Operating Officer, or designee, in this regard.

11.1.6 Class Leader Preparation Time.

Since the quality of inservice education is dependent upon the time allocated to preparation by class leaders, a reasonable amount of time should be allocated for such class leaders to research and plan each conference. However, it is recognized that there are other time demands which may supersede, and, in such cases, the class leader will be consulted in connection with any alternative arrangements made.

11.1.7 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.  An Infusion Care nurse who is assigned to non-infusion visits that require the performance of skills that the nurse has self-identified as a deficiency shall advise his/her supervisor of his/her concern.  The Infusion Care Program Head, or designee, will then assess the need for additional in service education, orientation, instruction, information or joint visit (“Education”), as appropriate to the situation, to address any skill deficiency.  This Education shall not be unreasonably denied.

11.1.8 Preceptor Program.

  1. To the extent that VNSNY determines the need for designated preceptors to assist in the precepting of new Registered Nurses and currently employed Registered Nurses new to a program, VNSNY may designate qualified Registered Nurses who have successfully completed a preceptor training program as eligible to perform preceptor assignments.  To the extent that sufficient qualified staff do not express an interest in performing preceptor assignments, and VNSNY determines an operational need to assign Registered Nurses as preceptors, VNSNY shall assign qualified Registered Nurses to perform preceptor assignments.  If a Registered Nurse requests not to participate in the Preceptor Program, the Registered Nurse’s request shall not be unreasonably denied.
  2. Preceptors will be given an educational program to prepare them for their role.
  3. Staff who are assigned preceptor assignments shall be paid a premium of $3.00 per hour for every specific hour assigned and worked as a preceptor. 
  4. The Preceptor Program shall not change a manager’s role in guiding and orienting an employee.
  5. The Preceptor Program shall not apply to intern or student learning programs.
  6. Nothing herein shall be construed as a substitute for formal orientation or ongoing educational support.

11.2 Foreign Language Courses.

The Employer will reimburse eligible staff members for the full cost of foreign language classes to a maximum of one hundred fifty dollars ($150.00) 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 staff member 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 of up to $12,000 per calendar year.  This $12,000 cap shall not apply during calendar year 2016 to Employees who have applied for and been accepted to an applicable degree program and who have registered and are currently enrolled in a course(s) on February 1, 2016.  The Tuition Refund Program will be further maintained in accordance with the following:

11.3.1 Covered Courses.

Courses leading to a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (“BSN”); a Master’s degree in Nursing, Health Care Administration, Community Health, Public Health, Nursing Education, Holistic Nursing, or Case Management; or a doctoral degree 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 tuition reimbursement must commit to one (1) year of employment from the date of reimbursement (“Commitment Period”).  Employees who resign before the end of this Commitment Period must, at the time of separation, repay tuition reimbursement paid out during the Commitment Period in accordance with VNSNY policy.

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, personal or compensatory 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) Registered Nurse 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 Certification.

In order to encourage nurse certification in areas of nursing specialization related to staff nurse work responsibilities, the Employer shall provide reimbursement to Regular Full-Time Employees who successfully complete the examination for a nationally recognized clinical certification that relates to the operational needs of VNSNY Home Care that is related to their job, as approved by the Employer. Reimbursement of up to four hundred dollars ($400) per certification shall be provided for exam and filing fees, with appropriate documentation.

11.6 OASIS Certificate Fees.

In order to encourage nurses to comply with the requirements for achieving an OASIS Certificate, the Employer shall provide reimbursement to Regular Full-Time Employees who successfully complete the examination for a Certificate for OASIS Specialist Clinical from the OASIS Certificate and Competency Board of up to four hundred dollars ($400.00) for related exam and filing fees, with appropriate documentation. A Regular Part-Time Employee will be entitled to a benefit under this Section.

A Per Diem CoC who complies with the requirements for the CoC Bonus in the fourth Paragraph of Article 2.1.5.c and a Per Diem Employee who meets the requirements for the Weekend Bonus in Paragraph three of Article 2.1.5.c will also be eligible for OASIS Certificate Fees reimbursement under Article 11.6.