From the desk of Adrianne Avillion, DEd, RN

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, July 9, 2010

Editor's note: This feature is written by nursing staff development expert Adrianne Avillion. Each week, Adrianne writes about an important issue in the area of staff development or answers reader questions. If you have a question for Adrianne, e-mail her at

Q: I have shared an idea with my boss, the director of my staff development department, to form a partnership with a staff development colleague from a hospital about 15 miles away. This would allow us to share resources and develop education programs that both facilities could use. I have a close friend at this facility with whom I want to partner. She is an exceptional educator and we have similar backgrounds, skills, and beliefs. We would work well together. My boss is receptive to the idea, but concerned we may be too much alike to be partners. Shouldn't partners be alike? Do we need a written contract even though we're friends?

Your boss has a good point. Successful partnerships do not necessarily equate with good friendships. Here are some suggestions when choosing a partner for a professional endeavor:

  • Successful partnerships are those in which each partner contributes a unique set of perspectives and talents. It's better to have partners who can bring a variety of skills and viewpoints to the partnership. Otherwise, you'll find you have the same strengths and probably the same weaknesses. This limits your effectiveness.
  • A partnership is a business relationship and must be treated as such. You need a written contract that explicitly states the roles and responsibilities of each of the partners, including deadlines and who has ownership of whatever products and services are produced as a result of the partnership.
  • Both hospitals' attorneys must review and approve the contract.
  • You need to think about what happens if one of the partners takes another job for a different organization or becomes ill. Will the partnership automatically dissolve? If you want it to continue, do you and any other partners have a say in who the new partner is? This needs to be addressed as part of the partnership agreement/contract.
  • Consider having an automatic review date of the contract, perhaps annually. This will give all parties involved the chance to evaluate the effectiveness of the partnership.

These are just a few suggestions. Consider them carefully, work with your boss, and consult with the legal department at your organization.

Most Popular