1. Johnson, Carol Susan PhD, RN-BC, NE-BC

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The next decade will be an exciting time for nursing and an opportunity for nursing professional development (NPD) practitioners to establish themselves as integral to their healthcare organizations. The size of the organization does not matter. It can be a small facility, clinic setting, a large acute care hospital, or a healthcare system. As an NPD leader (and you all are leaders regardless of title), you must be actively involved in strategic planning and decision-making. These tips will help you as you journey to successful integration and professional achievement.


Step 1: Know the Key Players


Who is always involved in organizational change? Whose opinion is valued and who is listened to in leadership meetings? If that person isn't you, seek them out and study their approach to issues. Observe their relationships with others, particularly their teamwork skills. Remember that these individuals can be highly effective mentors and can help you move into leadership circles where you can successfully represent NPD.


Step 2: Practice Political Savvy


Politics is present and necessary in all organizations. It isn't evil and to be avoided. Political savvy means that you understand and use the dynamics of power, organization, and decision-making to achieve professional objectives (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2016). You must learn how decisions are made in your organization, who plays what role in the organization, and how you can promote others' interests to establish alliances that will influence organizational outcomes.


Step 3: Be at the Table


Increase your visibility and influence by participating in both formal and informal activities. At first, you may have to actively seek involvement in interprofessional organizational groups (e.g., infection prevention, quality committee, or task forces). Remember that you have skills to offer each of these teams based on objectives of the Nursing Professional Development: Scope and Standards of Practice: collaboration, leadership, consultation, and resource utilization (Harper & Maloney, 2016). As your reputation for organizational integration grows, you will be more actively involved in your organization's decision-making.


Step 4: Focus on Strategic Initiatives


Just creating, implementing, and evaluating great programs is no longer enough for you and NPD to thrive in the organization. Use your contacts and political savvy to play an integral role in strategic initiatives. These initiatives are vital to the organization's success or failure in the healthcare marketplace. Learn how they impact your department and focus on supporting these strategic initiatives to contribute to organizational achievement.


Step 5: Create Allies


No one achieves success alone. If you have followed the first four steps, you now have a network of individuals who will help you achieve your professional goals as long as they align with those of the organization. Always be on the lookout for others who can advance organizational outcomes that align with your professional objectives. This is an opportunity to explore interprofessional collaboration among multiple disciplines who are all unified for quality patient care.


Step 6: Communicate and Collaborate


It is not necessary to give prolonged explanations or proposals. Healthcare time constraints require clear, concise descriptions about issues, possible actions, and recommended approaches. Focus on getting to the point clearly and timely. Many of your interactions will take place outside of meetings and require that you understand the motivations, interests, and agendas of others to achieve the organization's-and your-objectives.


Step 7: Be a Team Player


As your influence grows, remember to see others' point of view, listen attentively, and advocate based on the issues. Never fail to give others credit for their input and ideas. Then, they will see you as honest, trustworthy, and a team player who is focused on decisions that will benefit the organization.


Step 8: Measure Results Quantitatively


Some educational programs are vital to address strategic issues, such as reducing readmission of congestive heart failure patients within 30 days of discharge. This is an economic issue for hospitals and community health clinics. By now, you have been involved in planning to address this quality of care issue. Your educational program will be significant in determining reduction in this readmission by improved discharge education and clinic follow-up. This is among 5%-10% of education initiatives that impact the organization's bottom line (DeSilets, 2010). Using data from the quality department and finance, you must calculate return on investment (ROI):


Total benefit minus Total cost divided by Total cost times 100 = ROI %


A positive ROI indicates a positive benefit to the organization, and this calculation is language that finance speaks. These quantitative results provide validation of the integration of NPD in the organization.


Step 9: Play the Game Ethically


As you become more comfortable with alliances, know when and how to express yourself and see the big picture. As mentioned earlier, office politics is not of itself negative. If you approach situations ethically and honestly, others will see you as authentic and a positive force in the organization.


Step 10: Continue Professional Growth for Yourself and Others


As your political savvy grows, you can become a mentor for others. You realize that status quo is never good enough, and you continue to develop your knowledge-not just in education, but in professional life. Health care is a complex business, and you must ensure that NPD is integrated in your organization for you and your department to survive and thrive in the future. It is imperative that NPD leaders understand how they impact financial and strategic initiatives. Your continued professional growth will enable you, NPD, and your organization to succeed for the benefit of the patients you all serve.




DeSilets L. (2010). Calculating the financial return on educational programs. Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing, 41(4), 149-150. [Context Link]


Harper M., Maloney P. (Eds.). (2016). Nursing professional development: Scope and standards of practice (3rd ed.). Chicago, IL: Association for Nursing Professional Development. [Context Link]


U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. (2016). Leadership competencies-executive: Political savvy. Retrieved from[Context Link]