1. Gaberson, Kathleen B. PhD, RN, CNOR, CNE, ANEF

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Dr. Gaberson's area of expertise is academic nursing education. Within that field, she specializes in faculty development related to test construction and clinical teaching and evaluation. She also consults on nursing program accreditation, development of new research instruments, program evaluation, and writing for publication. Her clinical area of expertise is perioperative nursing.Dr. Gaberson has over 35 years of experience in nursing education as a faculty member and administrator in diploma, associate degree, baccalaureate, master's, and doctoral programs. She received a number of teaching awards and is the author or co-author of 10 nursing education books and numerous articles and book chapters. She is certified in perioperative nursing and nursing education and shares that she is honored to have been selected as an inaugural Fellow of the Academy of Nursing Education. She is a graduate of Presbyterian-University Hospital School of Nursing and earned a BSN from Carlow University, a Master of Nursing Education (MNEd) from the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing, and a PhD from the University of Pittsburgh School of Education, all in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Now retired from full-time employment, she is the owner and principal consultant for OWK Consulting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


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



KBG: The most significant event in my professional career was the 1965 publication of the American Nurses Association's position paper on the Bachelor of Science in Nursing as a requirement for entry into practice. I was halfway through my hospital diploma program at the time and discussing that publication with my teachers and with the Director of Nursing at one of our clinical sites motivated me to enter a BSN program soon after my graduation. Earning each of my subsequent academic degrees has been a significant professional milestone for me. Each degree represents an important step in the maturation of my professional identity. At each stage of my academic preparation for the roles of professional nurse and nurse educator, I encountered wise mentors who shaped my thinking about the profession and my place in it. For me, these milestones have always been about getting more education, not about acquiring degrees to add to my credentials.


2.How have you seen the specialty of nursing professional development (NPD) grow/evolve/change during your career?



KBG: At the beginning of my career, continuing nursing education was not a requirement for relicensure anywhere in the United States, professional certification in nursing was not yet available, and NPD consisted solely of a brief orientation period for most newly hired graduate nurses followed by the provision of occasional inservice programs when new products were adopted by the institution. I have seen NPD evolve to become an essential specialty based on the shared professional values of lifelong learning, maintenance of competence, and continuation of professional growth.


3.From your perspective, what do you see as significant trends or gaps in nursing practice that NPD could address?



KBG: We still focus on "sit in the chair" hours as a measure of continuing professional development. We need to develop robust ways of measuring the impact of professional development activities on nursing practice. How does nursing practice change as a result of participation in professional development activities, and what evidence do we have that the desired change persists?


We also need to take a fresh look at what we mean by "experience." We tend to measure experience by the number of years in a job, but there is a difference between 1 year of experience repeated five times and 5 years of experience that is informed and enriched by reflective practice. A reflective practitioner thinks about his practice, often while he is in the midst of it, and explores the knowledge, skill, and attitudes that he brings to his handling of a particular situation. Reflecting on his practice allows him to move beyond technical proficiency and construct new ways of framing and managing practice problems. NPD practitioners should foster reflective practice among nursing staff members and acknowledge its value in creating the quality of experience that produces effective practice in a healthcare environment characterized by constant change, complexity, instability, uncertainty, and value conflict. By focusing on quality rather than quantity of experience, we can help managers to identify those nurses who may only have a few years on the job but whose reflective practice has prepared them for new opportunities in the organization. This approach would improve our organizations' ability to retain millennial professionals who are ready to take on new challenges before they have had many years of experience.


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



KBG: Organizations either get better at providing patient care or they get worse; there is no staying the same. Administrators must invest in NPD because their outcomes depend on it. Scientific evidence links more academic education and maintaining competence to patient safety. As experienced baby boomer nurses retire, there will be a loss of professional wisdom that will be very difficult to replace. Millennials entering the workforce look for opportunities to learn and grow in the profession. If their employers do not offer professional development opportunities for nurses and support continuing nurses' academic education, they will leave in search of employers who do. Rapid staff turnover will never allow a nursing staff to develop the professional wisdom that produces the highest quality and safety of patient care.


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



KBG: I think we need to do more to help staff members improve their hospitality to new graduate nurses. They need to welcome new graduates not just as more warm bodies, hands, and feet to do the work but as colleagues into a learning community. One thing that new graduates are really good at is learning-they have been doing that nonstop for 2-4 (or more) years. More experienced staff members need to acknowledge, respect, and honor that we are all learning every day to improve our practice. They need to recognize that new graduates bring value to the organization and to the culture of the work unit by asking good questions and sharing their knowledge of recent developments in health care. Experienced staff members also should help new graduates to make connections between continued professional development and patient safety and help them to feel safe identifying what they don't know, because not knowing what you don't know is dangerous. NPD practitioners have an essential role in supporting experienced staff and new graduates.