1. Woolforde, Launette EdD, DNP, RN-BC

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The idea for a national specialty organization exclusively for staff development educators originated in 1985 when Belinda Puetz founded the Journal of Nursing Staff Development. In October 1988, Dr. Puetz convened a group of nursing staff development educators to discuss the possibility of formally starting a specialty nursing organization. On February 3, 1989, the National Nursing Staff Development Organization (NNSDO) was established with an initial goal of engaging 200 members by the end of the first year of the organization's existence. Well, at the end of the first year, there were 1,005 members! On April 17, 1991, the chartering ceremony was held, and a huge charter boasting 225 signatures on it was one of the central showcase pieces. Karen J. Kelly Thomas, the first elected president of NNSDO, described the excitement and enthusiasm of the eight or so individuals who laid out plans under the guidance of founder Dr. Belinda Puetz. They wanted to form an organization that would specifically address the needs of the service-based nurse educators, and they had a vision of many possibilities (Puetz, 2009).


I remember when I became a member of NNSDO, 17 years or so ago, it was a relatively small group of homogeneous people. These were dedicated nurses who were changing the way nursing was being practiced by pushing the issue of competency and the importance of staff development for patient care quality and for the profession overall. I, for one, am grateful to those early visionaries for establishing a place for our specialty and nurturing its growth. A lot has happened since then, including a name change to the Association for Nursing Professional Development (ANPD). With a steadily increasing membership, currently hovering around 4,400 members, ANPD's growth is noticeable, and it is exciting! It is my daily pleasure to experience the spheres of expansion of ANPD and of nursing professional development (NPD) practice.


Growth and expansion are beautiful things. Growth represents interest and attraction. Growth strengthens the present and secures the future. Although growth can present challenges, such as rapid growth with subsequent decline or growth that leads to chaos, ANPD and NPD practice continues to experience consistent steady growth, just the kind we like! This is result of the work of all of our ANPD members and their careful action, management, and decision-making, thereby ensuring our viability and sustainability.


Today, there are significant factors influencing NPD and yielding new spheres of expansion. These include the changing landscape of both the patient population and the workforce, and changes in care delivery settings and structures. Five key spheres of NPD and ANPD expansion are the new practice arenas for NPD, new roles impacting NPD practice, the increasing diversity in our membership and populations we serve, return on investment (ROI), and NPD leadership.



Actually, these arenas are not new at all. It may be that, with increasing volumes of care being delivered in these settings, they are more noticable now. These arenas include the ambulatory setting, home care, highly specialized care settings, and more. ANPD recognizes, welcomes, and includes NPD practitioners from nontraditional professional development practice settings. As care increases in these practice settings, NPD practitioners will need to expand our roles to support and advance NPD in these arenas.



With the new practice arenas and the shift to outpatient care delivery comes new roles for nurses, including NPD practitioners. The Future of Nursing report (Institute of Medicine, 2010) indicates that nurses must play new and expanded roles and that nurses are well positioned to help meet the evolving needs of the healthcare system. In today's practice settings, we have roles that didn't exist years ago. These include a new depth of care coordinators including nurse navigators and a proliferation of roles in nursing informatics, telehealth, and patient safety. Our sphere has always covered nursing support staff as well, and we are amidst a surge of emerging roles such as community health workers and health coaches. We have much to do in this space. We won't even get into the role of the chief nursing officer, who is really the chief everything officer. They need our support and expertise in greater ways than ever before as well.



NPD has expanded beyond the walls of seasoned, female, nurse educators in traditional inpatient acute care settings to now include outpatient settings, practitioners of younger ages, men, people of underrepresented racial groups, and varying sexual orientations. All of these are factors in the social, economic, and healthcare fiber of our country, and all are playing a role in practice and care delivery. This diversity has brought to the forefront the need to examine ourselves and the inclusiveness, or lack thereof, of our settings and our practice. ANPD continues to grow in its journey to pay attention to its inclusiveness so that its members benefit and so that we impact professional development practice to the fullest extent, something that can only be achieved in a diverse and inclusive environment.



Ongoing restructuring and healthcare changes continue to reshape how healthcare organizations operate and how they measure success. ROI is an important factor in the viability of any organization, and this has been somewhat of a persistent struggle for NPD. The idea that we add value, but have not been keen on quantifying that value, is a recognized gap that ANPD has started to address. Outcomes that are measurable and have impact are required. As NPD practitioners, we cannot explain the value of our work with low-level Kirkpatrick evaluation measures or, what I like to call, "the happiness index." You know what that is. That's when we run a class on CAUTI prevention and our evaluation is, "Oh, the nurses loved the class. They really loved it." Well that's great, but the organization is interested in whether the CAUTI rates have gone down as a result of this education. Did it result in a change in behavior and practice? As a result of all the time and effort we are putting into orientation and preceptor development-do we have greater retention of nurses? This is the ROI that organizations are looking for from us. If we're not able to answer yes to these questions, (although I might shift the justification argument and identify these efforts as the first of several steps in the change process), others may view our work as a failure. If you'd like to learn more about the work that ANPD is doing on ROI, you may read the Nursing Professional Development Organizational Value Demonstration Project by Harper et al., 2017 on the Journal for Nurses in Professional Development website at or



The capacity of the NPD leader has expanded greatly, and we need to expand with it. Our value relies heavily on our ability to demonstrate value across the board in ways that benefit the entire organization, not just our clinical specialty arena. For example, I was the nurse leader in the development of a flight nurse program (where none existed), oncology nurse residency program, advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) clinical placement development model, and so many other endeavors for which I actually have no experience as a clinical practitioner. I have never been a flight nurse or an oncology nurse. Prepared as a clinical nurse specialist, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing would define me as an APRN (National Council of State Boards of Nursing, n.d.); however, many others would not, defining the APRN group as nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives, and certified registered nurse anesthetists. Nonetheless, this did not and has not stopped me from using my expertise to lead program development and NPD in these arenas. In addition, as hospitals continue to merge into health systems, the NPD leader is now someone who may be overseeing NPD across facilities, regions, and even states. This is a new sphere of expansion for NPD.


NPD and ANPD are continuing to spread our wings and impact professional development in so many ways. As a result, our work is further reaching our and influence is greater. As NPD practitioners, we need to be able to bring our expertise across the boundaries of clinical practice and settings. This contributes, in part, to my personal emphasis of the relevance and importance of NPD certification, whether or not one holds specialty clinical certification. ANPDs primary focus remains the same, to advance the specialty practice of NPD for the enhancement of healthcare outcomes. The ways and spheres in which we are stretching and expanding bring value to so many, in more ways than we may even recognize!




Harper M. G., Gallagher-Ford L., Warren J. I., Troseth M., Sinnott L. T., Thomas B. K. (2017). Evidence-based practice and U.S. healthcare outcomes. Journal for Nurses in Professional Development, 33(4), 170-179.


Institute of Medicine. (2010). The future of nursing: Leading change, advancing health. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. [Context Link]


National Council of State Boards of Nursing. (n.d.) APRNs in the US. Retrieved from [Context Link]


Puetz B. (2009). Celebrating 20 years. Journal for Nurses in Staff Development, 25(4), 1-20. [Context Link]