From the desk of Adrianne Avillion, DEd, RN

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, February 12, 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 area of staff development or answer reader questions. If you have a question for Adrianne, e-mail her at

Q: The ANA's Professional Development Scope and Standards of Practice always refer to the role of the nursing professional development specialist. Is this the preferred title? Should I change my title to professional development specialist?

A: Good question. Unfortunately there is no clear-cut answer. Sometimes I think there are as many different titles as there are organizations. Just consider the titles of the departments in which we work, including staff development, professional development, organizational development, and continuing education. I'm sure you know of even more. Likewise, the titles of the people who work in these departments vary, including staff development specialists, professional development specialists, organizational development specialists, continuing education specialists, nurse educators, etc.

Personally, I have almost always used the title of staff development specialist. The leading professional association for nurses in staff development is called the National Nursing Staff Development Organization. The organization's official journal is The Journal for Nurses in Staff Development. However, the current Scope and Standards of Practice talks about the nursing professional development specialist and certification in our specialty is designated as certification in nursing professional development.

Until the specialty itself comes to consensus, I am comfortable with either staff development specialist or professional development specialist. I believe these titles truly reflect the essence of our specialty. However, I am not comfortable with the use of the title nurse educator, which has long been associated with professors of nursing in academic settings.

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