1. Schmidt, Kari L. MS, RN-BC, ACC
  2. Neal-Boylan, Leslie PhD, APRN, FAAN

Article Content

1. What are the significant professional milestones in your nursing career?



L.N.B.: Achieving a PhD in nursing and becoming dean of the University of Wisconsin (Oshkosh) College of Nursing are my most significant professional development milestones. When I think about my years as a young nurse, I never thought I could accomplish either of these goals, and so I didn't even consider them. It was with the support and encouragement of friends, family, and colleagues that I began to think that I could contribute to nursing in a variety of ways.


2. How have you seen the specialty of nursing professional development (NPD) grow/evolve/change during your career? Describe the development opportunities you see for nurses after their entry into practice.



L.N.B.: After I finished my PhD program, I got a job in professional development for a large nonprofit home healthcare agency. It was very hard work, but I learned a lot about how to organize and present material for adult learners who had little time and needed the most important points quickly and succinctly. More recently, my experience with nursing professional development included helping to develop a new online master's in nursing program option. I was very impressed by the topical outline required by the American Nurses Credentialing Center for certification in nursing professional development. As we thought about the classes we should offer, we realized that this was a very valuable certification for nurses, so we structured the curriculum to enable students to be prepared to sit for the certification exam.


3. From your perspective as an expert in nursing workforce planning, what do you see as significant trends or gaps in NPD practice?



L.N.B.: In preparation for writing The Nurse's Reality Gap: Overcoming Barriers Between Academic Achievement and Clinical Success (2013), I surveyed new graduates and found that one of their primary concerns, regardless of whether they graduated from an associate, baccalaureate, or master's degree program, was that they did not feel that they knew enough about organizational operations, finance, leadership, and the business side of the organizations for which they worked. Although the survey I conducted for The Nurse's Reality Shift: Using Our History to Transform Our Future (2014) revealed that nurses have never been satisfied with the extent and depth of their clinical training, the perception that undergraduate as well as graduate nurses need to be taught about how organizations work is relatively new. Nurse residency programs provide an excellent opportunity to introduce new graduates to the workings of the organization. However, there is no standardization of these programs, so new graduates may receive a lengthy residency or a brief orientation.


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



L.N.B.: I think NPD specialists have a lot to offer as we prepare for the future. So much is changing so fast that we must rely on NPD specialists to keep us updated, so that students and clinicians are cognizant of everything they need to know to be effective and successful. Nurses have always held high-quality patient care to be paramount, and to continue to do so, we need expert guidance especially during rapidly changing times. Increasingly, schools of nursing are being asked to pay preceptors and the nurses who work with our students in clinical settings. Clinical placements are becoming harder to obtain. Simulation is a marvelous way to prepare students to work with live patients but cannot substitute for real patient care. NPD specialists can lead the way and assist schools of nursing to find ways to continue to offer students valuable clinical experiences. In addition, education is becoming more interprofessional. NPD specialists can model how professional development activities can and should be conducted interprofessionally whenever possible. Collaboration and partnerships with other health professionals can provide realistic student experiences. Academic-clinical partnerships are an innovative way to maximize the expertise of clinicians and faculty and enhance practice and scholarship opportunities.


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



L.N.B.: It is vital that you maintain an active and indispensable presence in healthcare organizations. In many ways, you are the face of nursing in these organizations. You model nursing professionalism to our nonnursing colleagues and to working nurses and students. Don't allow yourselves to become superfluous in an organization. Fight for the value of nurses in general and of your role in particular. Thank you for all you do.




Neal-Boylan L. ( 2013). The nurse's realty shift: Overcoming barriers between academic achievement and clinical success. Indianapolis, IN: Sigma Theta Tau Publishing.


Neal-Boylan L. ( 2014). The nurse's realty shift: Using our history to transform our future. Indianapolis, IN: Sigma Theta Tau Publishing.