1. Hill, Karen S. DNP, RN, NEA-BC, FACHE, FAAN

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Having career opportunities and diverse areas to practice is an advantage of a career in nursing that few other professions can enjoy. Like many readers, I have benefited from the expertise of nursing professional development (NPD) practitioners in my work, from a practice perspective when I was a direct care provider, as a nurse educator with the mentoring of experienced peers to support me, and in my role now as a chief operating officer/chief nursing officer. I am challenged daily to identify and monitor clinical and operational strategy and resultant programs related to outcomes including return on investment.


In today's fast-paced, high-acuity environment, I feel that the evidence supporting the intervention of a credentialed NPD practitioner is clear yet, needs to be further studied and validated. For example, transition to practice continues to be a challenge for new graduate nurses. The data are clear that new graduates benefit from orientation, preceptorship, and mentorship (Rush, Adamack, Gordon, Lilly, & Janke, 2013). In an integrative review of the literature looking at new graduate transition, program components supported by evidence included the identification of a designated resource person, a formal education and orientation, supportive peers, and mentorship by a more senior nurse (Chappell, Richards, & Barnett, 2014; Rush et al., 2013). Each of these elements is impacted directly or indirectly by an NPD practitioner.


The efficacy of new graduate residency programs has been established including the impact to work satisfaction (Anderson, Linden, Allen, & Gibbs, 2009). Laschinger and Read (2016) reported a strong correlation between workplace incivility and burnout among new graduates. The presence of an NPD practitioner is an effective intervention to decrease the incidence of incivility among new graduates and others (Tomajan, 2012). Tomajan referred to the role NPD practitioners play in advocacy for peers by stating "nurse educators in professional development roles serve as the culture carriers for the profession" (Tomajan, 2012). In this statement, she reflects that the early advocacy for a new graduate by an educator can set the course of a new nurse's career for years (Tomajan, 2012).


The question remains, "How can we evaluate the value and support the continued presence of NPD practitioners in all practice environments?" Harper, Aucoin, and Warren (2016) presented a study exploring the organizational value of NPD practitioners. Organizations with larger numbers of NPDs reported higher outcomes on patient satisfaction with communication and information about discharge education (Harper et al., 2016). I would suggest that nurse leaders and NPD practitioners must identify indicators of value similar to systems we have in place for clinical outcome measurement. These should include turnover within the first year, nursing staff perception of professional development opportunities, and the incidence of clinical outcomes including falls with injury and hospital-acquired pressure ulcers. Each of these has a relationship to staff education and support of clinical practice consistency, both within the scope of influence of an NPD practitioner.


Administrative practice is more challenging with each passing year. The complexity of our roles continues to emerge as nurse executives face new realities including staff shortages, diminishing reimbursement, shifting indicators of value, and new models of physician and interdisciplinary relationships. In the evaluation of costly staffing resources, articulating the outcomes and significance of NPD practitioners make good business sense. In today's value-based environment, we cannot take these resource individuals for granted in the support they provide for our staff and ultimately the patients we serve. Nurses serving in professional development roles should expect that they will be measured on their contribution to the system and partner with nurse executive leaders to set the platform. Proactively, NPD practitioners should contribute to developing nationally accepted indicators with benchmarks for comparison. This is our new paradigm and a significant opportunity for nursing as we quantify our value across all roles.




Anderson T., Linden L., Allen M., Gibbs E. (2009). New graduate RN work satisfaction after completing an interactive nurse residency. Journal of Nursing Administration, 39(4), 165-169. [Context Link]


Chappell K. B., Richards K. C., Barnett S. D. (2014). New graduate nurse transition programs and clinical leadership skills in novice RNs. Journal of Nursing Administration, 44(12), 659-668. [Context Link]


Harper M. G., Aucoin J., Warren J. I. (2016). Nursing professional development organizational value demonstration project. Journal for Nurses in Professional Development, 32(5), 242-247. [Context Link]


Laschinger H. K., Read E. A. (2016). The effect of authentic leadership, person-job fit, and civility norms on new graduate nurses' experiences of coworker incivility and burnout. Journal of Nursing Administration, 46(11), 574-580. [Context Link]


Rush K. L., Adamack M., Gordon J., Lilly M., Janke R. (2013). Best practices of formal new graduate nurse transition programs: An integrative review. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 50(3), 345-356. doi:10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2012.06.009. [Context Link]


Tomajan K., (2012). Advocating for nurses and nursing. OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 17(1), 4. [Context Link]