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

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, April 15, 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

The competent role in nursing staff development

A few weeks ago, I began discussing some ideas for identifying various levels of staff development expertise based on Benner's clinical model. This week I'd like to talk about the role of the competent in nursing staff development.
Competents in staff development have been in the same job or worked in similar situations for two to three years. They can independently carry out basic needs assessment and plan and implement programs. They are nursing professional development (NPD) specialists and possess a minimum of a master's degree in nursing or related field (Avillion, 2011). Note that if the graduate degree is in a related field, the baccalaureate degree must be in nursing (ANA/NNSDO, 2010).

Some job description statements appropriate for competents include (Avillion, 2011):

  • Plans, designs, and implements in-service and continuing education based on needs assessment data and incorporating the principles of adult learning
  • Uses a variety of teaching strategies and audiovisuals to facilitate learning
  • Gathers and analyzes evidence pertaining to reaction, learning, and behavior levels of evaluation
  • Assists in gathering and analyzing evidence pertaining to impact and ROI levels of evaluation
  • Serves as a member of designated nursing and organizational committees

These sample statements are not all-inclusive. But they give an idea of the level at which competents function. For example, competents are capable of independently conducting evaluation at the reactive, learning, and behavioral levels but need assistance performing impact and ROI levels.

Competents benefit from working with a proficient or expert mentor. They should be encouraged to pursue publishing and presenting opportunities and learn more about advanced levels of evaluation and research.

ANA/NNSDO. (2010). Nursing Professional Development Scope & Standards of Practice. Silver Spring, MD: Authors.
Avillion, A. E. (2011). Professional Growth in Staff Development: Strategies for New and Experienced Educators. Danvers, MA: HCPro.
Benner, P. (1984). From Novice to Expert: Excellence and Power in Clinical Nursing Practice. Menlo Park, CA: Addison-Wesley.

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