1. Johnson, Carol Susan PhD, RN-BC, NE-BC
  2. Smith, Charlene M. DNS, MSEd, WHNP, RN-BC, CNE, ANEF

Article Content

Welcome to the introduction of the new series about preparing nursing professional development (NPD) practitioners for their pivotal leadership role in the future healthcare environment! Each column will provide valuable data and resources for you to use in developing your own and your colleagues' leadership skills.



In 2010, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) realized that changes in healthcare policies, practices, and reimbursement required greater leadership by the largest health provider group in the U.S. -registered nurses. Their recommendation to "prepare and enable nurses to lead change to advance health" (IOM, 2011, p. 14) was a multifaceted approach to attain essential leadership skills, including nurses' responsibility for personal and professional growth, expanding leadership development and mentoring programs, integrating leadership theory and business practices in nursing education programs and clinical experiences, and including nurses on boards, executive teams, and key leadership roles (IOM, 2011). Some progress has occurred since The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health was published in 2011, but more remains to be accomplished.


As the IOM identified, "Leadership from nurses is needed at every level and across all settings," yet adequate preparation in leadership theories, competencies, and principles is essential for nurses to develop into the leaders needed from the bedside to the boardroom (IOM, 2011, p. 225). Many programs were expanded or created to develop leadership skills in academic, continuing education, and professional organization curricula. However, no one source of data exists to validate results of these efforts to expand the role of nurses as effective leaders in advocating, supporting, or providing quality safe patient care. Although more nurses serve on health-related boards, their leadership role is still largely undefined (National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2016). The IOM recommendations began preparing nurses for these leadership roles, yet progress must continue for nurses to lead interprofessional teams that advance population health.



As described in the 2016 Nursing Professional Development: Scope & Standards of Practice, effective leadership is integral to the roles and responsibilities required of NPD practitioners today and into the future (Harper & Maloney, 2016). Specific to the leader role, the NPD practitioner must exert influence over interprofessional learning and practice environments, advance the NPD practice specialty, and advocate globally for professional nursing and social change to effect optimal care and health for the protection of the public. The NPD standard of professional performance, Leadership Standard 12, states: "The nursing professional development practitioner provides leadership in the professional practice setting and the profession" (Harper & Maloney, 2016, p. 50). As leaders, NPD practitioners must show a number of competencies for their role. The leadership competencies for the NPD generalist include developing healthy work environments, aligning educational programs with the goals and strategic plan of the organization, collaborating with stakeholders, showing emotional intelligence and passion for quality work, supporting innovation and a just culture, maintaining compliance records required of regulatory agencies, promoting the work of the professional development program, and implementing programs and projects to add value to organizational, patient, and employee outcomes (Harper & Maloney, 2016).


The NPD specialist meets the generalist competencies, in addition to assuming an expanded leadership role in NPD. In this expanded leadership role, the NPD specialist advocates for NPD practice within healthcare systems and beyond to advance the value of NPD practice in health care. The 2016 Nursing Professional Development: Scope & Standards of Practice conveys that the specialist (Harper & Maloney, 2016, p. 51):


* "creates a culture in which innovation and risk taking are promoted and expected;


* creates a just culture;


* assumes leadership roles representing NPD;


* partners with academia, specialty organizations, and others to create and implement nursing roles for the future;


* shows value of NPD to the organization through return on investment, enhanced quality of care, and improved patient outcomes;


* influences decision-making bodies to maintain and improve quality nursing and professional development programs;


* ensures NPD department compliance with reporting to regulatory bodies;


* leads organizational committees and shared governance councils;


* designs project plans using project management tools and oversees implementation;


* assumes a leadership role in excellence recognition initiatives;


* participates in local, state, regional, and national healthcare initiatives; and


* prepares for and seeks opportunities to serve on health-related boards of directors."



These competencies reflect achievement of the IOM recommendation, "prepare and enable nurses to lead change to advance health" (IOM, 2011, p. 14), and form the framework for this series. Starting in January, the Leadership column theme preparing NPD practitioners in their pivotal leadership role will explore various topics to support NPD practitioners in their professional development to become leaders in interprofessional practice and learning environments, healthcare systems, and professional nursing. With this background, you will be ready to enjoy, and learn from, future columns. We look forward to your feedback!


Co-Editors: Sue Johnson and Char Smith




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


Institute of Medicine. (2011). The future of nursing: Leading change, advancing health. Washington, DC: National Academies Press. [Context Link]


National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2016). Assessing progress on the Institute of Medicine report: The future of nursing. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. [Context Link]