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  1. Waddell, Donna L. EdD, RN, CS
  2. Hummel, M. Elaine MSN, RN, CS


To avoid omissions and to promote efficient use of time, it is important to plan continuing nursing education (CNE) activities systematically. A detailed and comprehensive planning checklist is provided to assist the novice planner to organize and implement a CNE offering competently.


Many staff development educators and continuing nursing education (CNE) faculty are new to the field and have limited experience with the process of planning CNE. The planning process is complex with many tasks and decision points. It is easy to overlook essential aspects among the myriad of details and, therefore, to be rushed at the last minute. To avoid this problem, a CNE planning checklist is helpful (Cooper, 1983).


For the novice planner, a checklist can be an especially valuable tool. It prevents omission and duplication of effort, eases time management and priority setting, and assists the planner to see the whole process from needs assessment and audience identification through facility selection and marketing strategies, to evaluation and thank you letters. For the experienced planner it is beneficial to review the necessary planning components from time to time. Even the most experienced CNE planner can forget to arrange for a photographer.


A CNE planning checklist of activities and decision points with suggested timelines for implementation does not imply that planning CNE is linear in nature or that the complex nature of the process should be ignored (Waddell, 1996). Indeed, similar to the nursing process in which the distinction between assessment, planning, and implementation can be very blurry, the educational process is as well.


The literature is replete with books and journal articles from the 1970s and 80s describing the process of planning for CNE, in-service education, and orientation (Austin, 1981; Cooper, 1983; Puetz & Peters, 1981). In the last 10 years, little has been written delineating the tasks in a step-by-step form. Brady (1996) described the planning of a nursing conference for hospital nurses, as well as nurses from the local community. She included a planning checklist; however, the level of detail given may not be sufficient for those planning a CNE offering for a broader audience. Thus, a planning checklist is provided for the reader's use and critique (see Table 1). Some steps may not apply in all situations. However, it is better to consciously omit a step, rather than overlook it. This form can be used as is or adapted to a unique situation. In addition to the tasks and decision points, suggested timeframes are included for implementing the CNE planning. It is hoped that this checklist will be time saving and anxiety reducing for those who use it. The 1996 American Nurses Credentialing Center's (ANCC) criteria for approval of a continuing education activity have been incorporated into the checklist so that use of it will facilitate obtaining approval of contact hours from an ANCC-accredited approver.