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

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, September 2, 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

Educating Nurses: A Call for Radical Transformation and its implications for nursing professional development

The recent publication of Educating Nurses: A Call for Radical Transformation (Benner et al, 2009) has significant implications for nursing professional development (NPD) specialists as well as nursing faculty. The book is part of a multi-year comparative study of professional education in the United States called the Preparation for the Professions Program (PPP) at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

The major findings noted in the book are that nursing programs in the United States are quite effective in forming professional identify and ethical deportment and that clinical practice assignments offer compelling learning experiences particularly in programs that integrate clinical and classroom teaching. However, findings also showed that United States nursing programs are not generally effective in teaching the following entities:

  • Nursing science
  • Natural sciences
  • Social sciences
  • Technology
  • Humanities

NPD specialists should be aware of these cited limitations and anticipate possible lack of skills in these areas in newly licensed nurses. Additionally, they should work with nursing faculty during student clinical rotations to help enhance these areas.

One way of facilitating learning and collaborating with faculty is for nursing faculty and NPD specialists to work together to develop residency programs for all new graduates. In fact, Benner and her colleagues identified a number of recommendations to improve nursing programs. The ones particularly relevant for professional development include the following (Benner et al, 2009; Rodriguez, 2011):

  • Broaden the clinical experience, particularly pertaining to opportunities for community experiences earlier in nursing programs
  • Include teacher education course in master's and doctoral programs
  • Require performance assessments for licensure
  • Develop clinical residencies for all new graduates

In particular, the recommendation for the development of clinical residencies caught my attention. Other professions, (most obviously the medical profession), have had residency programs for many decades. It makes sense that NPD specialists and nursing faculty collaborate in the development of such programs. In light of these findings, I hope that all of us in professional development work to establish residency programs that begin with a sound, competency-based orientation and evolve into programs that enhance both recruitment and retention.


Benner, P., Sutphen, M., Leonard, v., & Day, L. (2009). Educating Nurses: A Call for Radical Transformation. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Rodriguez, L. (2011). Keynote address NNSDO annual convention, July, 2011, Chicago, IL. Pensacola, FL: NNSDO.

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