From the staff development bookshelf: Consultants as partners in collaboration

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, June 22, 2012

Consultants are persons who help clients solve particular problems or enhance services. Consultants are usually hired for a fixed period of time in order to accomplish specified objectives. Here are some examples of projects that might require the use of a consultant.

One-time projects: These are unique projects that occur only once. For instance, suppose that your organization is building a new wing or even a new hospital building. You will be required to orient all employees to a new site. A consultant could help to design such an orientation or even help to implement it. A new building site occurs only rarely, and it may be prudent to seek help limited to the education needs triggered by such a unique project.

Needed expertise: New equipment, new disease pathophysiology, and specific certifications are examples of issues that require specific expertise. You may need a consultant to help you to learn about such issues and/or design and implement training and continuing education for a fixed period of time.

Change agent: Consultants are often popular choices when difficult changes occur within an organization. These types of changes may require elimination of positions, changes in roles and responsibilities, and/or leadership and management changes. The advantage to using consultants is that they are not, and will not become, part of the new organizational culture. They can facilitate changes, make unpopular decisions, and take actions that are the consequences of these decisions.

Book excerpt adapted from Innovation in Nursing Staff Development: Teaching Strategies to Enhance Learner Outcomes by Adrianne E. Avillion, D.Ed, RN.

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