From the desk of Adrianne Avillion, DEd, RN

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, January 8, 2010

Editor's note: Welcome to our new feature written by staff development expert Adrianne Avillion. Each week, Adrianne will write about an important issue in the profession of staff development or answer reader questions. If you have a question for Adrianne, e-mail her at

Q: What qualifications should I look for when filling a staff development specialist vacancy?

A: There are a number of basic qualifications for staff development specialists. The ANA's Professional Development Scope and Standards of Practice are under revision and the new standards should be available in early 2010. These new standards propose that professional development/staff development specialist preparation should be a master's degree in nursing or appropriate related discipline such as education. If the master's degree is in a related discipline, the specialist must hold a baccalaureate in nursing. Some organizations are also requiring that their educators be certified in Professional Development. The new standards also recommend that executive professional development leaders hold a doctorate in nursing or in education.

You should set a minimum qualification of experience in education. Some organizations prefer to hire only candidates that have one or more years experience in staff development. Others prefer to hire from within the organization, promoting staff nurses who have shown a talent for, and interest in, education. In these cases, identify persons who have successfully served as preceptors or mentors, who have participated in educating their colleagues regarding new procedures or other topics, or who have helped you to plan and present staff development activities. Do not hire staff nurses who have not shown these qualities. Some staff development managers have made the mistake of hiring candidates based on their clinical qualifications alone. It is essential that all candidates show some talent and background in education. Remember, you are hiring a staff development specialist, not a clinician.

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