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

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, July 8, 2011

Editor's note: This feature is written by nursing professional development expert Adrianne E. Avillion, DEd, RN. Each week, Adrianne writes about an important issue in the area of professional development or answers reader questions. If you have a question for Adrianne, e-mail her at

Thinking outside the box for nursing professional development

We often need to explore innovative options to meet the continuing education needs of nurses and other healthcare professionals. One such idea, unit-focused peer coaches, was discussed in the June 2011 issues of The Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing.

The use of peer coaches has a long history in the academic setting. Peer coaches are clinicians who work to assist with the improvement of peers' clinical skills (as well as their own) and who function as change agents. Coaches receive training in the art of adult education, teachable moments, and how to initiate the coaching role. Unit-focused peer coaches are a valuable resource and support for Nursing Professional Development (NPD) specialists. I suggest researching the role of the peer coach and looking for opportunities to make use of such coaches in your clinical settings.

Another innovative idea pertains to the role of the Nursing Professional Development (NPD) specialist. Creakbaum (2011) describes the initiation of a role allotted to a master's prepared RN whose primary focus is RN retention. Various titles have been given to this type of position, including retention specialist and new hire support coordinator (Creakbaum, 2011). This position typically falls under the jurisdiction of the professional development or staff development department since the role generally requires responsibilities pertaining to orientation and assisting with the education and support of preceptors as well as retention. Thus the retention specialist is also an NPD specialist. Check out Creakbaum's (2011) article and learn more about this innovative NPD specialist role.


Creakbaum, E. L. (2011). Creating and implementing a nursing role for RN retention. Journal for Nurses in Staff Development, 27(1), 25-28.
Zadvinskis, I., Glasgow, G., & Salsbury, S. (2011). Developing unit-focused peer coaches for the clinical setting. The Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing, 42(6), 260-269.

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