From the desk of Adrianne Avillion, DEd, RN

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, April 30, 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 on the education planning committee for my local chapter of NNSDO. I also am responsible for acquiring nationally known speakers to present at my hospital. We like to thank our presenters with a small gift in addition to their monetary compensation. Many of my colleagues like to give what I call cute gifts, such as flowers or a gift basket that contains items related to our geographic area. I prefer to give a more business-like token, but I am constantly outvoted by my colleagues. Do you have an opinion?

A: Yes, I do, and I agree with you for several reasons. First, let's look at the practical implications. What method of transportation is your guest speaker using? From personal experience, this issue makes a big difference. I served as one of my professional association's chairperson for a huge project that took several years to complete. At the first national convention after its completion, my colleagues gave me a beautiful bouquet of two dozen red roses. The roses were absolutely gorgeous and made me feel deeply grateful, but there was no way I could take them on the plane the next day. I had to leave them behind in my hotel room and left with a feeling of sadness.

I believe gifts should be of a business-like nature. An engraved pen, a professional book that is of special interest to the person receiving it, and so on are simple, easily transported items.

Here are some guidelines:

  • Don't give anything that can't be easily transported in carry-on luggage on a plane
  • Don't give something that is awkward, heavy, or a burden to carry
  • Avoid food items; you don't know food preferences, allergies, etc.
  • Don't give something that is perishable
  • Avoid cute
  • Maintain professionalism

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