From the desk of Adrianne Avillion, DEd, RN

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, April 2, 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 am the manager of a small staff development department of three people. I rely on distance-learning techniques (e.g., computers, self-learning modules) for meeting CE needs, but I feel evening and night shift personnel need in person education, particularly for skill demonstration. Offering these kinds of classes immediately after or before shifts requires monetary compensation and inconveniences evening and night shift staff who complain they are treated as second class citizens. How can I offer more in person classes on these shifts?

A: This is a common problem and I applaud your recognition of the need to be visible on evenings and nights. I also understand that it takes real planning and organization to make it happen. I recommend the following article as a good resource: Mayes, P., and Schott-Baet, D. (2010). Professional development for night shift nurses. The Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing 41(1): 17-24.

Also, consider the following:

  • Schedule a specific day and time each month for one of your staff to be physically present on evening and night shifts. Twice a month per shift is a good initial target. Inevitably, these scheduled times will turn out to be especially busy due to call-ins or patient acuity, but keep to your schedule. Seek the assistance of supervisors on those shifts. If you can identify a specific routine, such as the first Tuesday and Wednesday of each month, that will make it easier for everyone. You can plan your schedules accordingly, and evening and night shift staff will learn to count on your presence those days. Consult with supervisors and staff to find out the best times to offer programs (e.g., 2 a.m. for night shift).
  • Use the scheduled time wisely. This is precious time to be used for necessary, not nice-to-know, education. Skills demonstrations or competency activities are good choices.
  • Mock drills are good choices for evening and night shift education. All too often, mock code or mock Joint Commission surveys are held exclusively during the day.
  • Schedule programs that can be offered more than once during a particular shift. For example, if you are holding skill demonstrations, perhaps you could set up one time period at 2 a.m. and another at 3 a.m. (depending on staff and supervisor recommendations for times). This gives staff members two options to participate.

These are just a few ideas, but they have met with success in other organizations. Good luck!

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