From the staff development bookshelf: The survival of staff development

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, July 29, 2011

Today we reap the benefits of those nurses who persevered in their quest to establish the specialty of staff development. Nurses may earn specialty certification in nursing professional development (NPD), and resources are readily available, including journals, texts, and continuing education, specific to staff development. We have our own professional association, the National Nursing Staff Development Organization (NNSDO), and, according to established criteria, we are expected to be prepared at master's level of graduate education (ANA/NNSDO, 2010).

And yet, with all of the progress we have made, why is it that when budget cuts loom and positions are targeted for downsizing, staff development is often the first department targeted for budget reductions and position eliminations? There is no simple answer to this question. It does seem, however, that we have failed, over time, to quantitatively demonstrate the impact our products and services have on job performance and patient outcomes.

We spend a great deal of time helping not only the nursing department, but, in many instances, the entire organization to enhance professional growth and development. We have helped implement evidence-based clinical practice, developed preceptor and orientation programs, facilitated research, and established career advancement programs for our clinical colleagues. We are critical to the success of achieving accreditation status such as that awarded by The Joint Commission and the ANCC Magnet Recognition Program®. But we have not made the time to enhance the growth of our own specialty. Consider the following questions:

  • Do you have a competency-based orientation program for staff development personnel?
  • Do you have a career advancement program for staff development personnel?
  • Is there a distinction among the levels of expertise of staff development personnel?
  • Is the foundation of your department grounded in evidence-based practice (EBP) in staff development?
  • Have you quantified staff development impact on job performance and patient outcomes?

The answers to all of these questions need to be "yes" if you and your colleagues are to be true survivors. It is important that we are as concerned with the growth and development of our own specialty as we are with nursing and the other departments we assist.

Source: Book excerpt adapted from The Survival of Staff Development: Measure Outcomes and Demonstrate Value to Establish an Indispensable Department by Adrianne E. Avillion, DEd, RN.

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