1. Cardillo, Donna MA, RN, CSP, FAAN

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Ms. Cardillo's area of expertise is career and professional development for nurses. Her clinical experience includes psychiatric and emergency nursing. She also held nursing positions in medical weight control, the insurance industry, a National Council Licensure Examination test preparation company, healthcare reimbursement, quality improvement, and risk management-giving her a well-rounded and multidimensional background in health care. After launching her professional development company in 1995 initially presenting continuing education seminars for nurses, she went on to write three professional development books for nurses: Your First Year as a Nurse-Making the Transitioning From Total Novice to Successful Professional, Second Edition, Penguin Random House; The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses-Strategies for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career, Second Edition, American Nurses Association; and A Daybook for Beginning Nurses, Sigma. All three books are used at schools of nursing and healthcare facilities across the country as required reading. Ms. Cardillo was the original "Dear Donna" advice columnist for where she shared online career advice for 15 years. She states that she is honored to have been accepted as a Fellow into the American Academy of Nursing (induction November 2018) for her body of work in nursing professional development (NPD).


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



DC: In 1995, I launched an NPD business: In 1995, I created and continue to deliver the trademarked Career Alternatives for Nurses-A Program for Success seminar and home study program to broaden nurses' horizons about their role in health care, and their opportunities and capabilities. I am referred to as The Career Guru for Nurses. I authored three books related to career and professional development for nurses. I authored an award-winning self-help memoir: Falling Together: How to Find Balance, Joy, and Meaningful Change When Your Life Seems to Be Falling Apart. I wrote the "Dear Donna" advice column for for 15 years. I was appointed to the Advisory Board of the National Nurses in Business Association. I am especially honored to have been accepted as a Fellow into the American Academy of Nursing (Induction November 2018).


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



DC: NPD has grown and evolved into one of the most critical areas of focus for individual nurses (and students), as well as their employers. There was a time that nurses primarily had to keep up with the occasional advance in knowledge and clinical skills. But today's nurses need to stay current on almost a daily basis with not only clinical knowledge and practice but also with leadership and managerial skills, business acumen, technology, and healthcare trends and predictions.


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



DC: Many nurses are still lacking a sense of personal and professional empowerment. They perceive that they do not have a voice or that their voices are not being heard. This leads to feeling powerless and unmotivated to direct and advance their own careers and practice. When this occurs, nurses are often less open to receiving new information or ways of doing things, purposely pushing back as the only way they know to assert themselves. They may adopt an oppressed mentality and exhibit learned helplessness due to a lack of understanding of big picture issues and a disempowered view of their role in health care. Many nurses also lack (and need to be taught) assertive communication skills including conflict management, civil discourse, and the use of pronursing language.


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



DC: NPD is the cornerstone of advancing practice and the profession as a whole. Certainly, our work is directly tied not only to patient outcomes but also to staff recruitment and retention, patient satisfaction, accreditations, licensing, and so on. We have the responsibility and the opportunity to shape current and future generations of nurses to stay clinically competent and also to see themselves as vital, empowered healthcare experts and leaders. Regardless of the setting we work in, NPD practitioners are teachers, role models, coaches, and mentors. We must advocate for our role and our work. This includes being active in the Association for Nursing Professional Development nationally and locally, staying visible in the workplace and larger healthcare community, and providing evidence of our impact on an ongoing basis.


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



DC: With such a diverse group of learners spanning four to five generations, each NPD practitioner must stay current with trends in adult education, online communication including social media, technology, and so on. We need to develop and cultivate a "Beginner's Mind," staying open to actively learn "as a beginner", even learning, at times, from those we teach.


We also need to be diligent with our own professional development whether that involves furthering our formal education and certifications, taking professional risks, setting career goals, getting active on Twitter and other social media, speaking and writing professionally, and constantly stepping out of our comfort zone. We cannot lead anyone further than we have already gone ourselves.