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

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, November 8, 2012

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

Responses to departmental structure question

In September, I asked about the composition of your NPD departments and if there were distinctions regarding job descriptions, titles, and responsibilities based on education preparation. I received a variety of responses; here is a summary of them.

The majority of respondents represented departments that had nurses prepared at various education levels. Some made no distinction between the roles of graduate prepared educators and those who had BSNs. Some departments had educators who were prepared at the diploma level and did not have undergraduate or graduate degrees.

Three respondents came from departments that did not seem to have specific education requirements. Some had BSNs, some diplomas, some ADs, and there was an occasional master’s prepared educator. There were no or few distinctions in roles and responsibilities for those with degrees and those who did not have them.

One respondent from a small (less than 50 bed) hospital reported that there was only one educator. Historically, the role was filled by either a BSN or master’s prepared nurse. Most recently, the role was filled by a master’s prepared nurse.

Another respondent’s department made a distinction between an NPD specialist role (master’s degree required) and the role of Education Coordinator (who was required to have a bachelor’s degree). The third respondent’s department had a number of Clinical Educators who had various education preparation including BSN, AND, and MSN.

In summary, the structure differed for all respondents. It seemed that the smaller the organization, the less likely it was to mandate a graduate degree. I appreciate the time it took for the respondents to share their thoughts with me. Several of them advocated for a variety of roles and education preparations.

My concern for the specialty of NPD is that we seem to have the same ambivalence that the rest of the nursing profession has regarding education. Our colleges in occupational therapy have long since moved to a master’s degree as entry level. Our colleagues in physical therapy and pharmacy have progressed to mandate doctorates for certain entry level positions. We are the only healthcare profession that has three different entry levels: BSN, diploma, and AD. I believe that this has significantly contributed to our failure to achieve equity with salaries and professional respect. My original preparation was at the diploma level so I do understand the pride nurses feel in having earned that diploma. However, I believe that the time we waste arguing about professional entry level preparation is keeping us “constricted” as a profession. As a profession we must adopt the BSN as entry level preparation. As a specialty, I sincerely believe that we must adhere to the standard of graduate preparation to fill the role of NPD specialist.

Most Popular