1. Pilcher, Jobeth W. EdD, RN-BC

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1. What are the significant professional milestones in your NPD journey/career?



JP: My first formal role in professional development was nurse educator for an 83-bed neonatal ICU. My early teaching experiences were somewhat haphazard, and I often tell people that "I learned to teach by the seat of my pants." I joined the Association for Nurses in Professional Development (ANPD) formerly known as the National Nursing Staff Development Organization, NNSDO, as soon as I was aware that it existed. It was my first structured opportunity to advance my knowledge and skills in the specialty.


Another important milestone was the decision to return to school for a doctoral degree in education. I selected an online university, as it allowed flexible scheduling. It turned out to be a life-altering experience. I learned so many new things about education. For example, the coursework provided my first exposure to educational neuroscience (aka brain-based learning) and problem-based learning (PBL), the concept of authentic assessment, the science behind collaborative learning, mobile learning, technology standards, and instructional design principles in the online environment. Most of what I learned was information I could apply immediately. For example, after learning about PBL, I immediately applied it to the NICU internship program that I taught, with positive responses from my learners. I continue to use PBL and WebQuests (the online version of PBL) when I facilitate workshops. I was also introduced to exciting and emerging technologies. I specialized in e-Learning and online teaching. My research explored willingness of nurses to learn with technology. I discovered that nurses of all ages were willing to learn with a variety of technological tools. Interestingly, my results refuted the commonly believed concept that it is only the younger generation who is willing to learn with technology. My study actually found that the older nurses were often more receptive than younger nurses. The key finding from my study (and an important implication for other NPD specialists) was educational technology needs to be easy to use, familiar to the participant, convenient, and have an obvious benefit to the learner (Pilcher & Bedford, 2011).


Many additional milestones include becoming certified in the NPD field, serving on committees for national organizations, serving as column editor for the Education Strategies column in Neonatal Network, having opportunities to speak nationally and internationally, and being presented with the Education Technology Award this past summer at ANPD.


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



JP: The most important change I have seen is the increasing use of evidence-based teaching strategies (EBTS). Just as our patients deserve care based on best available evidence, our learners deserve education that is evidence based. In particular, I am excited to see the current and evolving move from a "focus on teaching" to a "focus on learning." Many educators are employing learner-centered strategies rather than simply relying on traditional lecture. I think this will have a significant impact on learner outcomes now and in the future. For example, I have witnessed increased learner engagement (and even excitement) in the classroom setting when educators have increased levels of interactivity. Similarly, in the online learning environment, nurses have told me they learn much more when expected to seek information to meet their own learning needs. Educational neuroscience findings are suggestive of increased ability to remember, recall, and later apply information if the participant is actively involved in the learning process (Salas et al., 2012; Sousa, 2011). With increased application of what has been learned, I would anticipate a concomitant improvement in patient outcomes. And that really is the ultimate goal among healthcare educators. Isn't it?


3. What do you see as significant trends or gaps in NPD practice, from your perspective as an expert in e-Learning and Innovative Learning options?



JP: Sometimes, as new trends arise, the pendulum swings too far and gets hung on one side. I think that has happened with EBTS. While it is certainly important to use evidence to guide our teaching strategies, we also need to balance EBTS with innovation. We need to be willing to try new strategies and study their effectiveness. Evidence begins with innovation. For example, mobile learning is really taking off. There is an app for countless situations. Many of those apps provide excellent opportunities for just-in-time learning. The next logical step is for educators to begin studying the effectiveness of this type of learning. The same could be said for learning with social media.


I am also excited to see so many new and emerging technologies that have the potential to support learning. However, we must center our attention on learning (rather than on the technology). Simulation is a good example. When educators first begin working with high-fidelity simulators, they often seem to focus more on what the simulator can do rather than the desired end goal for the learner. As virtual simulations, gamification, and augmented reality emerge, similar issues may arise for both educators and learners. In order for the focus to remain on learning, technology needs to be easy to use, convenient, and have obvious benefit.


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



JP: NPD specialists can and do make a difference in areas such as retention, application to practice, and patient outcomes. It is now our responsibility to learn how to measure and be able to articulate our outcomes.


Measurement needs to move beyond simply asking if participants were satisfied with a learning activity or how well they performed on a test. We need to begin looking at achievement. What was the learner able to achieve as a result of the educational activity? Did it make a change in their practice? Are there outcomes that could be directly or indirectly related to the educational event (such as a decrease in incidence of pressure ulcers or an increase in new hire retention rates)? Similarly, articulation of our outcomes needs to move beyond simply telling our stakeholders how many educational events we offered. Measuring our outcomes will help us to articulate our value. For example, my NPD colleagues in neonatal care were able to provide documentation of outcomes for preterm infants in the first hour of life. After an involved training event that included use of high-fidelity simulation, careful tracking documented almost immediate improvement in infant temperature stability in the delivery room as well as a decreased incidence of chronic lung disease and retinopathy of prematurity in the first 6 months after the training (Reynolds et al., 2009). Based on educator reporting of these outcomes, administration provided additional financial support for simulation supplies, space, and training time for nurses.


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




* Never stop learning!


* Try new things! Don't keep teaching the same way because "you've always done it that way."


* Become certified in the NPD specialty.


* Write about your innovations and experiences. Share your successes.


* I would also like to encourage NPD specialist to participate in research on education issues. Our field has many innovative strategies for which there is little or no evidence. Take on the responsibility to help fill the knowledge gaps!





Pilcher J., Bedford L. (2011). Willingness and preferences of nurses related to learning with technology. Journal for Nurses in Staff Development, 27(3), E10-E16. [Context Link]


Reynolds R. D., Pilcher J., Ring A., Johnson R., McKinley P. (2009). The golden hour: Care of the LBW infant during the first hour of life. Neonatal Network, 28(4), 211-219. [Context Link]


Salas E., Tannenbaum S. I., Kraiger K., Smith-Jentsch K. A. (2012). The science of training and development in organizations: What matters in practice. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 13(2), 74-101. [Context Link]


Sousa D. A. (2011). How the brain learns (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin. [Context Link]