From the desk of Adrianne Avillion, DEd, RN

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, March 19, 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: I've been a staff development specialist for nearly 20 years and I seem to have lost the excitement and enthusiasm I once felt for my specialty. It feels like I do the same thing (e.g., orientation, CPR, inservice) over and over and deal with the same problems. I have a lot of responsibility, including chairing committees and acting as preceptor for newly-hired staff development staff. The manager of my department is thinking of retiring within the next five years, but I don't think I can stand doing the same thing for another five years. I am also not that interested in administering the department. Any ideas?

A: I sympathize. It's a challenge to find ways to stay enthused when we feel burned out from the same routine. It sounds as though you need to look beyond the typical staff development role. Here are some ideas:

  • Serve as a mentor. Research shows that mentorship programs increase job satisfaction of both the mentor and the mentee. If your organization doesn't have a formal mentor program, consider starting one.
  • Share your expertise in print. If you haven't already done it, consider writing for publication. It's exciting to see your ideas and successes in print.
  • Join professional organizations. Don't limit yourself to nursing organizations. The American Society for Training and Development ( has members from all sorts of professions. It can be exciting interacting with continuing education professionals outside of healthcare.
  • Submit abstracts/proposals for presentation at conventions devoted to continuing education. Presenting a paper or a poster is another exciting way to rejuvenate your enthusiasm for your work.
  • Check out vacancies within your organization that would allow you to use your educational expertise, yet offer you some new opportunities. Are you interested in research? Many organizations have nursing research departments or departments devoted to clinical research. This may be a good opportunity for you. What about work in quality improvement or risk management? Departments devoted to Joint Commission and/or ANCC Magnet Recognition Program® readiness are becoming the norm in some large organizations.

In summary, consider opportunities that give you a chance for a bit of self-promotion. Think about branching out from the traditional staff development environment. Good luck!

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