1. Colvin, Ann MSN, RN-BC

Article Content

Ms. Colvin has leadership experience in both clinical and academic setting. She also has held leadership positions in local, state, and national professional nursing organizations, and served two terms as treasurer of the Association for Nursing Professional Development (ANPD).




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



AC:Achieving educational goals


I can't remember a time that I considered any career other than nursing. While many say that they entered the nursing field to help others, the strongest influencing factor for me was that my eldest sister, whom I idolized, was a nurse. She exemplified all the qualities one would want from a nurse. Through each course of my journey, Diploma in Nursing, BSN, and MSN, I never lost sight of my goal-to be as good or better nurse than my sister. I faced many challenges but feel I grew from each one. Because of those challenges, I feel that I have a better appreciation for individuals facing similar circumstances.


Experience a nursing professional development (NPD) practitioner


I began my journey in the field of nursing education over 32 years ago, at University of Alabama Hospital at Birmingham (UAB), Birmingham, Alabama, where I'm still employed as a Nursing Professional Development Specialist in the Center for Nursing Excellence. My primary responsibilities include planning, designing, and implementing creative and engaging educational programs that meet the needs of varied levels of learners. During my tenure at UAB, I have worked on various educational, evidence-based practice and quality improvement projects including those that focus on onboarding, career development, and nursing professional.


NPD certification


Certification is critical in validating the specialty-specific knowledge, skills, and expertise of the NPD practitioner. Achieving the Nursing Professional Development certification positioned me to acquire varied career advancement and leadership opportunities. Additionally, it allowed me to serve as a role model to others seeking professional nursing certification.


Participation in professional organizations


I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by peers that helped me see the benefits of participating in professional organizations. Membership in the organizations provided numerous networking opportunities that would be instrumental in my career trajectory. I sought out leadership positions in local, state, and national professional nursing organizations. I became a member of ANPD (formerly National Nursing Staff Development) in order to stay abreast of changes in the specialty practice of nursing professional development and to stay current with teaching strategies, educational technology, evidence-based teaching, and program development applied to the professional development setting.


ANPD gave me a lot, and I wanted to give back. Thusly I ran for, and was elected to, two terms as treasurer of the organization. As treasurer, my primary responsibilities included overseeing the management and reporting of the organization's finances. During my terms in office, I got an inside look at how valuable the organization is to our specialty practice and the nursing profession. It quickly became apparent that the organization held itself accountable to its financial value proposition of developing, maximizing, and allocating resources to move the organization forward and be relevant and responsive to its members as well as the members of the industry.


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



AC: The specialty has changed dramatically since I entered the profession. At that time, NPD practitioners were seen primarily as inservice instructors-orienting staff, conducting staff education programs, teaching CPR classes, inservicing on equipment. We did not have a strong collective voice championing efforts to define and promote the scope of our practice.


The scope of NPD practice has evolved full spectrum. We serve in a variety of roles that contribute to the development of staff. We use research evidence to guide our practice. We are seen as leaders and experts in quality and patient safety. We are at the forefront of engaging in activities that lead to organizational success. Through the collective efforts of ANPD and its partners, we are becoming a collective voice in saying who we are and what we do.


3. What do you see as significant trends or gaps in NPD practice from your perspective as an expert in professional nursing development?



AC:Outcome measurement


The ultimate goal of providing continuing nursing education (CNE) activities is to improve the professional practice of nursing and thereby the care that is provided by registered nurses to patients. Historically, evaluating outcomes of CNE activities at the level of practice impact has rarely been accomplished. All too often, the evaluative phase is still primarily limited to focusing on learner satisfaction and teaching strategies while behavior and results are largely neglected. This presents a partial and fairly limited picture of the impact of CNE on professional practice.


Our "value for money" culture along with a changing political climate demands evaluation of performance and evidence of effectiveness. Lack of such evidence could result in diversion of funding from CNE whenever healthcare budgets are squeezed. This has made it imperative that healthcare educators be able to articulate the impact of continuing professional education on nursing practice and its added value to the individual nurse, patients, and the healthcare system.


Nursing-finance gap


Those investing in continuing nursing education need to be confident that they are investing in real improvements in patient care and are able to defend their investment on the basis of robust evidence. The role of the NPD practitioner has evolved to require greater business and financial skills. The effectiveness of overseeing these fiscal responsibilities can mean the difference between an organization's financial stability and financial turmoil.


Part of leadership in health care today requires assuming financial management. Yet globally financial savvy is often cited by nurse leaders as one of their weakest leadership areas. Unfortunately, all too often many professional development practitioners assume expanded roles and responsibilities without adequate education, resources, or support. The focus on closing the financial knowledge gap is critically important.


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



AC: The nursing professional development practitioner can play a key role in identifying solutions and strategies that help healthcare organizations succeed. To do so, we must first be recognized as leaders and show our value. We must acquire and maintain leadership skills sets. We must be willing to assume a seat at the table where critical decisions about our future and others are being made. We must demonstrate our value by reporting return on investments for our efforts.


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



AC: Don't lose your passion. Today's health care and learning environment will require the NPD practitioner to acquire new skills, assume new roles, and work in new environments. We can never lose focus of the value we can add to the future of the nursing profession by providing the highest level of education and development to prepare and mentor the future generations of nurses.