From the desk of Adrianne E. Avillion, DEd, RN

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, January 21, 2011

Editor's note: This feature is written by nursing staff development expert Adrianne E. Avillion, DEd, RN. 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

Overview of the Nursing Professional Development (NPD) Scope and Standards of Practice

The most recent version of the Nursing Professional Development Scope and Standards of Practice (ANA/NNSDO, 2010) was published in 2010. A copy should be part of every staff development department's resource library. A critical component of this publication is the new Nursing Professional Development Specialist Practice Model, a systems model with inputs, throughputs, and outputs (Bradley, 2010).

Review the following components of the model and determine how to appropriately use this model in your own practice setting:

  • Practice and learning environment: Evaluate your practice and learning environment. Where we practice influences how we practice. For example, is your department part of a multi-facility healthcare system, a single hospital, or an outpatient center? What kinds of patients are served? Do you provide education for a single department (nursing) or do you have housewide responsibilities? How does your department contribute to the achievement of organizational goals and objectives?
  • Input: Nursing professional development (NPD) is "activated by the input of the NPD specialist and the learner" (Bradley, 2010, p.290). The education process is dependent upon the input of these two entities.
  • Throughput: Throughput consists of the various factors that trigger the development of education activities, learning, and, ultimately, change. At the center of throughput (as indicated by the model) is evidence-based practice (EBP) and practice-based evidence (PBE). EBP is using the best available evidence to guide the decision-making process. PBE is what actually works in the practice setting (Bradley, 2010). Throughputs addressed as part of the model's center include orientation, competency program, in-service, continuing education, career development and role transition, research and scholarship, and academic partnerships (ANA/NNSDO, 2010). NPD specialists recognize these throughputs as essential components of their staff development practice.
  • Outputs: The model indicates that our practice goals are learning and change to promote professional role competence and growth (ANA/NNSDO, 2010). The ultimate outcome should be protection of the public and provision of quality care (ANA/NNSDO, 2010).

Practical adaptation of this model involves identifying gaps between your actual work setting and the desired outcomes as identified in the model. You should prioritize your activities based on what you can realistically achieve. For example, a small, two-person department may not be able to develop a nursing research program. But you could conceivably gather evidence from your priority activities (e.g., orientation and nursing continuing education) and identify your own best practice examples. The point of this model is to adapt it, in a practical sense, to your own work setting so your priorities contribute to enhancing patient outcomes.

American Nurses Association/National Nursing Staff Development Organization. (2010). Nursing Professional Development Scope and Standards of Practice. Silver Spring, MD: Authors.
Bradley, D. (2010). "Scope and standards." Journal for Nurses in Staff Development 26(6), 290-292.

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