Website spotlight: Measuring the effects of nursing education

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, January 7, 2011

Years ago, while working in nursing professional development and education, consultant Gen Guanci, MEd, RN-BC, CCRN, realized that she was doing herself and her department a great disservice by reporting out "productivity" of the nursing education department.

At the time, Guanci was working on reports based on quantitative data—the department conducted 20 classes, for example, serving 200 nurses. (She calls this concept "butts in the seat reporting.")

What they were not doing, she explains, was demonstrating what outcomes those filled seats then led to. "In other words, what was different as a result of our educational activities?" says Guanci, who is now a consultant with Creative Health Care Management in Minneapolis. 

She undertook the task of identifying and explaining that qualitative aspect. These outcomes were then linked to the organizations' goals and even pay-for-performance initiatives.

"Many of these are stretch goals or outcomes some educators have a hard time relating their work to," explains Guanci.

For example, let's say your department holds education classes on computerized physician order entry (CPOE). One of the main reasons organizations implement CPOE is to reduce transcription errors. After your classes, the order transcription error rate drops by 66%. This helps validate the critical importance of nursing professional development's role in regards to patient safety and outcomes.
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