From the staff development bookshelf: Critical thinking in staff development

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, December 23, 2011

Critical thinking is a learned skill. The ability to gather and assess relevant evidence and use that evidence to problem solve comes with experience. Those who work in staff development, particularly nursing professional development (NPD) specialists, have a long history of facilitating critical thinking in nurses and other healthcare professionals. But what about addressing critical thinking skills specific to staff development?

Critical thinking in staff development is as much a learned skill as it is in the clinical arena. Just think about the various levels of expertise in staff development. A clinician nurse doesn’t become an expert clinician (with critical thinking skills to match) overnight. Why should we assume that NPD specialists are automatically expert critical thinkers? To do so is a disservice to our staff development colleagues. This type of assumption may lead to other assumptions, such as that NPD specialists don’t need a competency-based orientation or that all NPD specialists function at similar levels of expertise. In order to attain and maintain recognition and respect as a specialty, we must not only add to the unique body of knowledge that is staff development, but establish important foundations of practice such as competency-based orientation, career advancement programs, and identification of distinct levels of expertise among NPD specialists.

Source: Book excerpt adapted from Professional Growth in Staff Development by Adrianne E. Avillion, DEd, RN

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