1. Schmidt, Kari L. MS, RN-BC

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Debbie started her career in Nursing Professional Development in 2003, has served as a clinical nurse educator, education consultant, Director of Nursing Professional Development, and Manager of Learning and Development. She received the Association for Nursing Professional Development (ANPD) Excellence in Professional Development: Facilitator, Change Agent, and Consultant Award (2009) and recently received the ANPD Excellence in Professional Development: Leader/Communicator Award.


1. What are the significant professional milestones in your Nursing Professional Development (NPD) journey/career?



DB: In 2013, I was responsible for leading cultural change through developing orientation, training, and competency assessments for all roles in a newly opened hospital. The hospital, located in a suburb of Portland, Oregon, is a community-based hospital with 800 employees. It was a unique opportunity to plan for the opening of a new hospital, as there had not been a new hospital opened in Oregon for over 40 years. The training plan was then repurposed and used to facilitate a patient-focused cultural change in an existing hospital. As I reflect on the experience, I am reminded of the wisdom of partnering early and often with stakeholders. We were able to draw upon each other's leadership skills in such a way that the final product was perfectly created to meet the organization's goals.


2. How have you seen the specialty of NPD grow/evolve/change during your career?



DB: I have seen increased emphasis on the change agent/team member and leader/communicator roles. NPD specialists are an integral member of the leadership team. Over the past 4 years, I have been asked to lead more change management and healthy workplace environment training with intact work teams. Change resilience, personal transition management, personal accountability, values clarification, and team building are focus areas of this training.


3. What do you see as significant trends or gaps in NPD practice, from your perspective as an expert in facilitating cultural change and development?



DB: When I first started my NPD career, critical thinking and clinical judgment were emphasized in addition to technical skills. In the past few years, I have noticed an increased focus on interpersonal skills needed for a healthy workplace environment.


Interpersonal skills were the focus of the leadership team for our new hospital. The leaders envisioned a hospital that specialized in patient-centered care and healthy workplace environments. The team followed recommendations presented in the Institute for Healthcare Improvement white paper Achieving an Exceptional Patient and Family Experience of Inpatient Hospital Care (Balik, Conway, Zipperer, & Watson, 2011) to guide its strategic goals. One of the primary drivers specifically addressed healthy workplace environments. "The patient's overall experience is highly linked to the quality of all interactions with caregiver [therefore] compassionate communication and teamwork are essential competencies" (Balik et al., 2011, pp. 12-13). In addition to the mandatory orientation, training and competency assessment needed to meet regulatory requirements, we developed strategies to address the hearts and minds of the people who would be hired. All staff participated in on-boarding activities, classes, and simulations that supported this vision.


One of the most gratifying moments during this time occurred 6 weeks into the 3-month training plan. The staff presented the leaders with a "gift." Staff from across the hospital gathered to make a video thanking the hospital leadership. The video opened with a thank you for the leadership's "vision and sacrifice [which] made all of this possible." This was followed by scenes of the hospital being built. The video ended with a series of individual department teams dancing and holding up thank you signs. Their energy and enthusiasm were evidence of the culture we were building. It is the most memorable moment of my career.


4. What insights can you share related to the value of NPD in healthcare organizations now and in the future?



DB: NPD specialists play an integral role in an organization's achievement of its strategic goals. By leveraging recommendations from professional organizations such as the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and the Institute of Medicine, NPD specialists can develop training plans that improve patient safety and quality care, patient and family experience, and workplace engagement. Following these recommendations and having NPD at the table led to our successful cultural transformation training.


5. What advice do you have for NPD specialists in the context of today's healthcare and learning environments?



DB: NPD specialists should use a strategic approach to address training that addresses cultural transformation. Culture work requires deep knowledge of interdepartmental dependencies, professional scopes of practice, and the importance of working in teams. NPD specialists need to partner with key stakeholders to develop strategies that engage and energize staff's commitment to the patient and family experience and effective teamwork principles. A focus on culture is critical, as relationships are the foundation for an organization's success.




Balik B., Conway J., Zipperer L., Watson J. (2011). Achieving an exceptional patient and family experience of inpatient hospital care. IHI innovation series white paper. Cambridge, MA: Institute for Healthcare Improvement. [Context Link]