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STAR Program

Special Thanks And Recognition

Star program (Special Thanks And Recognition) logo

Use the STAR Program to maximize the employee recognition experience!

At UK HealthCare, exceptional service begins and ends with each of us. That’s what the STAR program is all about. Whether it’s day-to-day accomplishments or above-and-beyond results, we recognize, honor and celebrate the individuals and teams who are at the core of our success.

This page is a resource to help you navigate the STAR Program, which creates recognition that is impactful and helps shape a culture of appreciation.

The STAR Program launched in July of 2017 as a way to show appreciation for the employees that give amazing care and great work, day in and day out.  The program features two types of recognition. E-cards are the foundation of the program and great for recognizing and appreciating the day-to-day great work from your teammates.  Award nominations are reserved to honor a co-worker who does something extraordinary, where the work is beyond expectation and makes you say, “Wow!”. 

When recognition is done right, when it is timely, specific and sincere it can be powerful to the honoree.  When employees feel appreciated through recognition, they are more likely to engage into UK HealthCare’s Mission, Vision and Values.      

  • Who can use the STAR Program?

    • UK HealthCare
    • College of Medicine
    • Eastern State Hospital
    • Kentucky Clinical Management System
    • Graduate Medical Education

    Employees who fall outside of these categories – including STEPS, contractors and campus employees – can still be recognized outside of the system. Contact Chelsea Smitson for more details.

  • Award nominations: Rewarding behaviors

    Sometimes “Thank you” just isn’t enough. When you see someone providing outstanding service and living the DIReCT values, nominate them for an award. Using the nomination wizard, you will be prompted through the process of describing your nominee’s achievement and evaluating its impact. Our awards come in three different levels – gold, silver and bronze – and each represents a step up in terms of scope, effort and impact so that the honoree receives the right sized recognition for the recognition event.

    Illlustration of gold, silver and bronze award ribbons.

    Each award has a point value associated with it: The higher the award, the higher the point value. Each award has an approval path based on the level of points. Approving managers help to ensure that the recognition is appropriate and matches the level of the award given. Recognition, when it’s done right, can impact engagement, communication and an employee’s self-value. Poor recognition, however, or recognition for the wrong reasons can be harmful.

    Name Award level Who can give (nominator) 1st level of approval 2nd level of approval Presenter
    eCards 0 All employees N/A    
    Bronze 250 points All employees Nominee's manager N/A Nominator
    Silver 500 points All employees Nominee's manager N/A Nominator
    Gold 1000 points All employees Nominee's manager Recognition coordinator Nominator


    Understanding award levels

  • The STAR Program and LIVING DIReCT

    UK HealthCare’s organizational values – diversity, innovation, respect, compassion and teamwork – are the principles that guide all decisions and actions, ensuring we are achieving our mission and vision every day. By recognizing one another for hard work and achievements in one or more of the values, the STAR Program reinforces and perpetuates the positive behaviors that ensure a healthy work culture and exceptional patient care.


    We foster a people-centered environment inclusive of all. We will always:
    Respect differences of opinions
    Acknowledge the expertise of everyone
    Promote cultural sensitivity and social awareness
    Recognize unconscious biases and overcoming barriers


    We embrace continual learning and improvement to drive positive change. We will always:

    • Be visionary with a passion for discovery
    • Continuously improve quality, safety and service
    • Commit to always being safe and error free
    • Achieve optimal outcomes with our expertise, research and resources


    We value our patients and families, our community, our co-workers, ourselves, and the resources entrusted to us. We will always:

    • Foster a people-centered environment
    • Demonstrate professional behavior and ethics
    • Practice stewardship in resource management
    • Commit to honesty, transparency, dependability, confidentiality and trust


    We express empathy for the needs, thoughts and feelings of those we serve and with whom we work. We will always:

    • Display kindness to everyone
    • Do our best to relieve suffering
    • Promote healing and well-being
    • Embrace patient- and family-centered care
    • Encourage a welcoming and caring environment


    We cultivate meaningful relationships to create positive outcomes. We will always:

    • Share information to optimize value
    • Be accountable for our actions
    • Embrace interprofessionalism during care delivery
    • Include and empower all members of the team

    Learn more about the values on the LIVING DIReCT SharePoint site.

  • Campus-approved awards

    The STAR program also supports some of the Campus Approved awards found in healthcare. These awards have followed the policy and procedures for establishing employee award programs found in the Business Procedures Manual, Section E-7-12 Employee Awards (PDF, 86 KB)

    For a full list of campus approved awards including the healthcare approved awards please see this page from Financial Services: Accounts Payable Services - Student/Employee Awards, then select Approved Employee Awards at the bottom of the screen. If you are interested in having the STAR Program support an award you sponsor, please reach out the Employee Recognition Coordinator or Employee Engagement Manager to discuss the process. 

  • Contact information

    For any questions about the STAR Program or other recognition efforts at UK HealthCare, or to schedule a training about employee recognition, please contact Megan Kidd, employee recognition coordinator, or Crystal Gabbard.