From the staff development bookshelf: Nurturing novices in staff development

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, February 17, 2012

Nurturing novices is not an easy task. They generally have extensive responsibilities as a staff nurse or other clinician and their time to pursue staff development is limited. Nevertheless, there are some critical steps you need to take to help them on their chosen career path.

Complete BSN degree (if they have not already done so). A BSN should be the minimum education requirement for a novice hoping to advance to unit-based educator. Set a time line for completion of the degree. Pursuit of a NPD specialist position requires a master's degree. Note that if the graduate degree is in a related field, the baccalaureate degree must be in nursing (ANA/NNSDO, 2010). Be able to facilitate the novice's search for an appropriate baccalaureate program. Maintain current catalogues of local colleges and universities as well as those that offer portions of their programs online. There are numerous accelerated RN to BSN programs that can be completed entirely online.

Apply to complete preceptor training and function as a preceptor. Most novices are already functioning as preceptors. But if they are not, this is a reasonable goal to set.

Assist unit-based nurse educator or NPD specialist (whichever is appropriate for your organization) with just-in-time training. Gradually increase the novice's responsibility for this type of training. For example, novices could be encouraged to be the contact person for equipment vendors.

Assist unit-based nurse educator or NPD specialist (whichever is appropriate for your organization) with inservice education. Gradually involve the novice in planning inservice education.

Pursue continuing education pertaining to staff development as evidenced by earned contact hours in the field and the application of information from professional books, journals, and continuing education pertaining to staff development in their job performance. Compile a resource library for the novice. Be careful to include only those articles or books that have basic information. Remember that the novice has no experience as a professional educator.

Establish a professional relationship with a mentor. Help your novices by linking them with appropriate mentors. Although you may facilitate contacts with persons who are willing to act as mentors, do not choose the mentor for the novice. The novice must select her own mentor. Remember that mentors need not be someone from within your organization. Utilize the mentor networks of your professional associations and your own personal professional network. A mentor relationship will be one of the most valuable assets to a novice.

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

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