From the desk of Adrianne Avillion, DEd, RN

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, November 5, 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've learned about a number of clinical nursing theories, but have been unable to find a theoretical framework for staff development. Is there one?

A: I am not aware of any specific model of practice for staff development. I tend to rely on Benner's model of nursing practice (1984), which I have adapted to staff development (Avillion, 2004). Here is a brief summary of that adaptation:

  • Novice: No experience or formal training in staff development. May be an experienced clinician, but still a novice in the staff development arena. To advance beyond the novice level, needs formal education, on-the-job mentoring, and opportunities to learn about, and participate in, the education process.
  • Advanced beginner: Has had some formal education and training in staff development. Has faced enough real-life situations to recognize the most important aspects of program planning and implementation. Relies on rules and guidelines, and deviations from the norm are disturbing and difficult to cope with. Prioritizing is a challenge. Needs training and education about concepts of evidence-based practice (EBP) in staff development.
  • Competent: Has worked in the same or similar environment for three years. Can prioritize, but still needs help in ranking the importance of various tasks and responsibilities. Is beginning to explore the idea of formal research in staff development. Has a basic grasp of the EBP in staff development process.
  • Proficient: Anticipates and adapts swiftly to changing conditions. Has a sense of what works and what doesn't without having to stop and analyze and consider rules and guidelines. Is comfortable with EBP in staff development and incorporates it consistently.
  • Expert: Well-developed instincts and functions with an intuitive grasp of most staff development situations. Conducts research to add to the body of staff development knowledge.

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