Nine Nurses Throughout North Country Healthcare Achieve Expert Levels in Nursing


WHITEFIELD, N.H., February 27, 2023 – North Country Healthcare (NCH) is pleased to announce that nine nurses throughout its proud partner hospitals have achieved expert level status in the annual Clinical Ladder professional development program.

The Clinical Ladder is an NCH-wide professional development tool that encourages advancement of the bedside nurse and recognizes nurses for their participation in three domains: leadership, education/professional growth, and clinical performance. To qualify, clinical nurses must be directly involved with patient care, and they must demonstrate completion of a series of projects beyond their normal work responsibilities, all within one year.

“This dedicated group of high achieving nurses embodies the North Country Healthcare mission of ‘assuring consistently excellent, integrated care.’ I am proud of their tremendous accomplishment and all that it represents for each individual’s personal and professional growth,” said Tom Mee, RN, BSN, MBA and Chief Executive Officer of NCH.

According to Kelsey Blood, RN, MSN, SANE, AEMT and NCH Clinical Education Manager, “The clinical ladder program is an intensive process that demands a significant amount of time and commitment from the applicants.” The program aims to promote career advancement and employee retention, as well as increase competency, improve quality of care, and positively impact employee satisfaction. “By applying to the clinical ladder program, each nurse must demonstrate completion of various components and meet a minimum number of points for each level,” she added.

At Androscoggin Valley Hospital (AVH) in Berlin, Kimberly Dubord, ADN, RN, RNC-OB, and Natalie Valliere, ADN, RN, CLC, achieved clinical ladder level three; and Ariel Cusson, BSN, RN, achieved level two. Kimberly is an experienced Obstetric (OB) nurse and certified Neonatal Resuscitation instructor, committed to educating AVH staff in Women’s and maternal health issues. Natalie mentors students, OB nurses, and clinical staff, and she has become an integral part of the state’s best practice initiatives. She is a certified lactation consultant available to the community as needed, and she is highly trained in caring for high-risk and ill newborns. Ariel has been in OB for two years and has brought a wealth of nursing knowledge to her role. She has been actively involved in improving policies and nursing care, demonstrates a strong work ethic, and shows a determination to raise the bar for herself and her team. All three nurses provide care in Women’s Services at The Valley Birthplace at AVH.

At Upper Connecticut Valley Hospital (UCVH) in Colebrook, Julie Bolton, BSN, RN, Emergency Department (ED), Infection Control & Employee Health, and Marci Ducret, BSN, RN, CCRN, CEN, TCRN, CPEN, Emergency Department, achieved level three. Julie has been with UCVH for seven years and divides her time between the ED and Med Surg, and UCVH employee health/infection control. She serves as a mentor for other nurses and co-chairs the Hospital’s antibiotic stewardship program. Marci has been with UCVH for 24 years and this is her second time through the clinical ladder process. Most recently, Marci obtained board certification in pediatric emergency nursing. She is an active member of several UCVH committees and participates in the Emergency Nurses Association.

At Weeks Medical Center (WMC) in Lancaster, Nicole Crowell, ADN, RN, WCC, SANE, Med-Surg House Supervisor, and Rachelle Jenkins, BSN, RN, CNOR, Surgical Services, achieved level three; and Caleb Child, BSN, RN, Surgical Services, and Leah Milligan, BSN, RN, Med-Surg House Supervisor, achieved level two. Nicole is a full-time house supervisor who also frequently works in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). She is responsible for reviewing and updating general nursing policies, and she co-chairs the Nurse Practice Council as well as the Wound and Fall Team. Rachelle was recently named Operating Room (OR) Clinical Leader. She is a resource for all phases of surgery, from pre-op to Post Anesthesia Care Unit, and she precepts (i.e., teaches) other nurses frequently. Rachelle is a member of the Nurse Practice Council and is involved in the review and revision of numerous policies. Caleb recently completed his first year at WMC and has already shown great leadership. He has participated in policy review, made presentations at staff meetings for his peers, and is an active member of the Nurse Practice Council. Leah is a full-time house supervisor who also frequently works in the ICU. She is a super-user for multiple pieces of clinical equipment and provides training for her peers. For Nicole and Rachelle, this marks their second time through the clinical ladder process.

Since the program’s inception in January 2022, fourteen nurses throughout the NCH system have achieved advanced levels within the clinical ladder. Examples of these achievements include obtaining job certifications above and beyond what is required, planning and implementing peer training on clinical tasks or scenarios, creating and implementing patient education, and maintaining competency in advanced clinical skills.

The Clinical Ladder program supports North Country Healthcare’s goals of engaging its workforce and positioning its staff for success.


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