Ask the expert: Advanced beginners in staff development

Nurse Leader Insider, September 10, 2012

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This week, Adrianne E. Avillion defines an advanced beginner in staff development and gives examples of an advanced beginner’s strengths and weaknesses.     

Q. Could you please explain the characteristics of an advanced beginner in staff development?

A. The advanced beginner is not a nursing professional development (NPD) specialist. They have dealt with enough “real life” situations in the form of inservice and just-in-time training that they know that learning activities must incorporate the principles of adult learning, have a purpose that is communicated to the learners, have specific learning objectives, contain appropriate content, and a mechanism for participants to evaluate the learning activity. They follow specific rules and guidelines and are fairly easily “thrown” by the unexpected.

For example, advanced beginners know that resistant learners cannot be allowed to disrupt the education activity. They have been taught specific strategies to deal with resistance and may even have implemented such strategies on occasion. But the first time their repertoire of strategies fails to defuse the resistance they are likely to become flustered. Or they may not be accustomed to receiving a significant number of “negative” comments on evaluations completed by learners. They follow the “rules” for good inservice planning and may be easily offended by negative reactions.

Advanced beginners may be novices who were nurtured and are now ready to assume their initial role in staff development. They may be candidates from another organization or facility who are already well-versed as advanced beginners and are looking for a new employer. Whatever the case, advanced beginners should receive a thoughtful, thorough orientation and become part of an environment that will nurture their professional growth and development.

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