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

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, May 6, 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

Characteristics of a survivor in staff development

All too often staff development is the first department scrutinized when budget cuts and downsizing occur. Here are some characteristics of survivors in staff development. They are the colleagues who have successfully weathered these challenges!

A survivor is never complacent:

  • Never assume that your position is "safe" and that your organization is on strong financial ground. Are you aware of the financial stability or lack of stability of your organization? Pay attention to any communications relating to cost expenditures. Read your local newspapers and visit your organization's web sites frequently. Sometimes local media representatives learn about things about financial status that even managers and employees do not. Is there any mention of any pending legal action against your organization or its employees? Such action can significantly impact financial status. Never rely on one source for information about your organization's financial solvency.
  • Are you aware of restructuring activities within your organization? Are some departments losing positions? Are others gaining positions? Is there a pattern to the restructuring?
  • Are you willing to ask managers and administrators the "hard" questions? Don't shirk from asking tough, even challenging, questions. Ask about budget cuts and budget projections. Discuss your concerns.

A survivor grounds staff development activities in evidence-based practice (EBP) in staff development:

  • Is evidence gathered for all staff development activities for the purpose of analyzing their impact on patient outcomes, job performance, and/or organizational effectiveness?
  • Are all members of the department trained in the concept of EBP in staff development?
  • Are staff development products and services developed and/or revised according to evidence?
  • Are findings from analysis of evidence communicated effectively to other departments, managers, and administrators?

A survivor develops and maintains a strong professional network:

  • Actively network within your organization. Make professional alliances among not only nursing but other departments as well.
  • Actively network with colleagues from outside your organization. Make contacts locally and globally.
  • Become or stay active in your professional associations. These are excellent networking resources.

A survivor trusts her/his instincts:

  • Develop and trust your instincts. If your instincts tell you that something is "wrong" believe it. Then look for some evidence for what your instincts are telling you.

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