This month’s CE article: Evaluating outcomes demonstrates value of education

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, February 25, 2011

Nursing professional development is a specialized nursing practice that promotes the professional development of nurses by facilitating their participation in lifelong learning activities. Such activities are designed to enhance professional competence and role performance, with the ultimate outcomes of protecting the public and providing safe, quality care.

Outcome evaluation is very important in today's environment, as both consumers and regulatory agencies are demanding accountability and documentation of the results of educational endeavors.

In evaluating our work, staff development personnel frequently use Kirkpatrick's (1996) first two levels of evaluation, which are reaction (happiness index) and learning. Kirkpatrick's third and fourth levels, behavior change and results (program impact), are more difficult and time-consuming to implement, but they are worth the effort. Return on investment (ROI) is often considered the fifth level of evaluation. This article will focus on some strategies to use for the higher levels of evaluation, including outcomes.
There are two standards in the newly revised Nursing Professional Development Standards of Practice (ANA, 2010) that deal directly with outcomes. Standard 3, outcomes identification, states: "The nursing professional development specialist identifies desired outcomes" (p. 25), and standard 6, evaluation, states: "The nursing professional development specialist evaluates progress toward attainment of outcomes" (p. 31).

We must show that our educational programs make a difference in practice, but how do we do that?

Editor's note: To read the rest of this free article, visit the Reading Room, part of CE credits are available for this article through purchasing the accompanying quiz.

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