1. Harper, Mary G. PhD, RN-BC
  2. Bindon, Susan L. DNP, RN-BC, CNE

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2020! Not just a new year but a new decade. Not just a new decade but one that exudes thoughts of perfect 20/20 vision. So it is only natural that we should pause to consider what the future of our specialty looks like. Even the theme of the Association for Nursing Professional Development's (ANPD) 2020 annual convention is Aspire[horizontal ellipsis]to Envision. Join us as we prognosticate where we see our specialty in the future based on where we have been!



The past decade has been a remarkable adventure in nursing professional development (NPD). Some major forces impacting our specialty included the publication of the third edition of Nursing Professional Development: Scope and Standards of Practice (Harper & Maloney, 2016), organizational mergers, a focus on demonstrating our value, ongoing advances in technology, and increased emphasis on diversity and inclusion.


The adventure began with the release of the 2010 Nursing Professional Development: Scope and Standards of Practice (American Nurses Association & National Nursing Staff Development Organization, 2010), in which the focus shifted from the provision of education to the specialty practice of NPD. This focus was further solidified in the 2016 scope and standards (Harper & Maloney, 2016), which based the practice model on a role delineation study that provided a scientific foundation for our specialty practice (Warren & Harper, 2017). The 2016 NPD Practice Model has resonated with NPD practitioners, promoting organizational alignment with our defined scope of practice.


In addition to an increased focus on our specialty, organizational mergers have created a new, emerging position in NPD-that of the multisite NPD leader. These NPD executives are faced with a unique set of challenges such as merging cultures, standardization across organizations with varying levels of resources, and adherence to different legal requirements for systems that span multiple states. In the context of these organizational mergers, the focus on NPD's organizational value continues to escalate as healthcare funding is scrutinized. NPD practitioners are compelled to measure the financial impact of their activities.


Technology has become a way a life, yet keeping up is a challenge-even for our digital natives who are joining the NPD specialty in increasing numbers (Cameron, 2017). For the first time, ANPD has started providing space at convention for nursing mothers in the past few years! Still, as research demographics and personal observations indicate, our ranks continue to consist mainly of middle-aged, Caucasian women (Harper, Aucoin, & Warren, 2016; Harper et al., 2017; Warren & Harper, 2017). The call for our profession-and our specialty-to be more reflective of our population continues. To that end, ANPD has developed a Diversity Task Force to identify ways to be more inclusive.


Innovations in NPD practice over the past decade have proliferated. For example, NPD leaders have used the NPD Practice Model to streamline departmental functions (Price, 2017) and coalesce system-wide NPD departments resulting from mergers (Harper & Maloney, 2019). Others have collaborated with colleagues in informational technology to develop visual dashboards to demonstrate NPD value within their organization (Reed, Rafique, & McGarity, 2019). These innovations have galvanized our specialty, renewing enthusiasm among our colleagues.



In addition to enthusiasm, curiosity and reliable problem-solving skills are needed to navigate change, whether across huge organizations or in our own neighborhoods. Technology brings convenience to gas stations and libraries, whereas ride sharing services and fast food deliveries are just a click away. These advances, however, can also frustrate or impede access to those who are unable or unwilling to engage with the swiping and tapping required for common transactions. More specifically, resistance to change can also delay learning new skills and eventually marginalize an individual's development and contributions in the workplace. Digital content and reporting, high-tech simulation, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence are or soon will be part of our everyday professional lives. It is incumbent on NPD leaders to ensure that no one on the healthcare team is left behind as processes evolve and practice changes.



There is much to be excited about as we look to 2020 and beyond. Bindon (2016) made several predictions about the future of NPD in the ANPD leadership text. These statements forecast the knowledge, skills, and attitudes NPD practitioners will need to succeed and demonstrate their value in their organizations. There is an urgent need to translate our current knowledge, skills, and attitudes into future ones to stay ready and relevant. For example, we need information literacy skills to find, evaluate, and implement evidence. We need to be skilled project managers and implementation scientists. We need to prioritize our work and convey progress toward goals in relevant, meaningful terms. We must develop our business acumen and be facile in terms of return on investment. It is essential for us to develop and maintain partnerships and collaborative teams and share our successes and challenges. We must be willing to let go of processes and practices that no longer fit in today's work environment and seek new alternatives. And always, we must model and demand civility, diversity, and inclusion as we lead and do this important work.



Although we fully engage in maintaining our present skills and developing those of others, we will continue to look ahead. There is an urgent need to innovate as organizational resources tighten and expectations rise. In an interview, Bonnie Clipper from the American Nurses Association asserts innovation is not only about the latest gizmo or gadget but something nurses do daily without recognizing it as such (Thew, 2019). Innovation, Clipper believes, is about creating value by doing things differently. From this perspective, nurses are terrific innovators, and NPD practitioners are among the best and brightest! Our challenge in the upcoming months and years is to keep thinking of how we can approach problems in new ways to achieve meaningful outcomes. What can you do differently as an individual NPD practitioner? How can you influence innovation on your team? How can your team's innovations affect your organization or system? And finally, how can we work together as a specialty to contribute to nursing and health care on a global level? Whether we choose to start small or aim high, once we envision an innovation, we can begin to embrace change and will continue to make a difference. Like Walt Disney's dream and mouse, if we can envision it, we can do it!




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Reed C., Rafique S., & McGarity T. (2019). Developing a partnership to showcase NPD practitioner value through a visual dashboard. Concurrent session presented at the Association for Nursing Professional Development Annual Convention, Phoenix, AZ. [Context Link]


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