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

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, June 3, 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

Nurturing the Expert nursing professional development specialist

Last week, I talked about the nurturing of the Proficient. This week, we'll discuss how to nurture the Expert. The Expert is at even more risk for burnout and career stagnation than the Proficient.

Experts (using Benner's work as a foundation) have a minimum of 10 years of experience in staff development. They function on an intuitive, instinctive level and are able to quickly grasp the essentials of any staff development situation. They often function as managers of staff development or research departments and are generally prepared at, or are pursuing, a doctorate degree in nursing, adult education, or related field (Avillion, 2011). 

Experts are at the greatest risk for burnout. They have accomplished a great deal. In addition to their staff development skills, they publish research and articles, present at seminars and conferences, and serve as mentors. What can we do to help Experts discover new challenges and retain their enthusiasm?

Experts need to have opportunities at an organizational level. They may develop and oversee major efforts such as mentor programs or accreditation pursuits. Experts are often ideally suited to initiate staff development research. They should be encouraged to participate in continuing education programs and formal academic work pertaining to the research process.

The organization should support Experts' efforts to assume leadership roles, such as elected office, in their professional associations. Experts should also be offered leadership roles within the organization whenever possible.

Experts have the potential to be the visionaries of our specialty. They should be encouraged to think out of the box and allowed the freedom to try innovative approaches to education.

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 Publishing Company.

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