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

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The scope of the nursing professional development (NPD) practitioner is vast, and it seems to expand even further each day. We are leaders, doers, and followers all at the same time. Gaining mastery over our role does not just happen magically; it takes an investment in oneself-an investment that allows us to "sharpen the saw" so that we can better perform in our roles and maximize our ability to contribute to the professional development of others.


You may or may not know that, over the past few years, the Association for Nursing Professional Development (ANPD) Board of Directors has been working diligently to implement and advance the 2017-2020 ANPD strategic plan. Strategic planning is an organizational management activity that is used to set priorities, focus energy and resources, strengthen operations, ensure that stakeholders are working toward common goals, establish agreement around intended outcomes/results, and assess and adjust an organization's direction in response to a changing environment. It is a disciplined effort that produces fundamental decisions and actions that shape and guide what an organization is, who it serves, what it does, and why it does what it does, with a focus on the future (Strategy Management Group, n.d.). In the March/April 2017 issue of the Journal for Nurses in Professional Development (JNPD), Patsy Maloney, EdD, RN-BC, CEN, NEA-BC, our current ANPD President, provided a thorough description of the ANPD strategic plan. You can access that column on the JNPD website here:


Our ANPD strategic plan is built on four pillars:


1. NPD Role Clarity: Through this pillar, ANPD strives to identify NPD practitioners as value-added leaders in health care. ANPD aims to strategically position itself to advocate for the NPD specialty and, similarly, support NPD practitioners to strategically position themselves to demonstrate the value of their role.


2. Managing Transitions: This pillar focuses on NPD practitioners being recognized as the authority and educational leaders for nursing transition to practice models and implementation strategies. Furthermore, this pillar aims to support that NPD practitioners will be leaders in facilitating the transition of various healthcare personnel into new and changing practice roles.


3. Leadership: Through this pillar, ANPD is encouraged to enhance its position as the educational leader for NPD. This pillar also aims to support NPD practitioners in being recognized as leaders in health care and as experts in professional development.


4. ANPD Value Proposition: This pillar focuses on strengthening ANPD's value to NPD practitioners and being recognized as the preferred membership organization. This includes continually developing educational products and services to meet the needs of our members (ANPD, 2019).



Recognizing how rapidly health care and the role and scope of the NPD practitioner are changing, ANPD launched several very important products and programs that exemplify its strategic plan and allow members to invest in themselves. These include the Planning Quality Continuing Education Program, the Frontline Nurse Leader (Charge Nurse) Development Program, Preceptor Program Administration: NPD Considerations, NPD Certification Preparation Practice Exams, and the recently released and very popular NPD Cert Prep Digital Flashcards. All of these are available in the Professional Development Center on the ANPD website. Also available in the Professional Development Center is the Transition to NPD Practice Fellowship asynchronous course. This 13-module, learner-paced, computer-based program provides the novice NPD practitioner with an overview of the roles and responsibilities as delineated in the Nursing Professional Development: Scope and Standards of Practice. Combined with a number of assignments to be completed with a preceptor or supervisor, this course is a worthwhile investment in self as it provides a strong orientation for nurses new to the NPD specialty.


Two additional programs that I want to highlight are the Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) Academy and the NPD Leadership Academy. Leadership and EBP competencies are increasing in importance in many roles, and NPD is not excluded.



Melnyk, Fineout-Overholt, Gallagher-Ford, and Kaplan (2012) describe EBP as a problem-solving approach to clinical practice that incorporates the best evidence from well-designed studies, patient values, and preferences. As part of the release of the 2016 Nursing Professional Development: Scope and Standards, 3rd edition, ANPD introduced the revised NPD practice model-a systems model designed to meet the unique needs of the NPD practitioner as outside factors continue to broaden the scope and responsibilities of the NPD practitioner (ANPD, 2017). Both the current and the previous NPD practice models (American Nurses Association & National Nursing Staff Development Organization, 2010) use a systems model to illustrate the NPD process with interrelated inputs, throughputs, and outputs. EBP is core to the model as one of the six standards of NPD practice. Yet, for many NPD practitioners, understanding EBP, especially as it relates to the role of the NPD practitioner, may be a practice gap. The EBP Academy was developed in response to research that ANPD conducted in collaboration with the Ohio State College of Nursing and Elsevier. This research, which was published in the July/August 2017 issue of JNPD, demonstrated that NPD practitioners, in fact, do lack EBP competencies. Through the new EBP Academy, NPD practitioners will complete a computer-based, asynchronous EBP course and then conduct an EBP project with the oversight of an ANPD mentor. This EBP Academy is developed specifically for NPD practitioners. Designed with an understanding of learner retention and optimal learning design, the online portion of the program consists of twenty-five 15-minute modules created with experiential learning activities for the practice setting. Individual modules include an EBP Intro; Breaking Down the PICOT Question including the application component involving case studies; and Gathering and Critically Appraising Literature, which explains everything from levels of evidence to summarizing and synthesizing findings. Participants then complete modules on Assessing Readiness for EBP Implementation, including creating a culture of clinical inquiry, and Implementation an EBP Plan, including fit, feasibility, appropriateness, and stakeholder engagement. Finally, this robust program takes the learner through the process of evaluating outcomes including data analysis and roll out; dissemination of outcomes including writing exemplars, abstracts, and developing posters; and partnering to sustain a culture of EBP through establishing councils and committees.



The NPD Leadership Academy is a 12-month mentored program based on the content of Leadership in Nursing Professional Development: An Organizational and System Focus (Smith & Harper, 2016). The purpose of the Leadership Academy is to prepare NPD practitioners to assume leadership of an NPD department in a variety of settings. The Academy consists of a live face-to-face preconvention workshop followed by live webinars throughout the year for each section of the text. Participants complete relevant, asynchronous assignments between webinars. In addition, one overall work-based leadership project is completed over the course of the year. Participants are encouraged to submit abstracts to share their project outcomes at the ANPD annual convention.


ANPD offers so much that allows NPD practitioners to invest in ourselves. The experiences and benefits one gains from participating in any of these programs stay with you for a lifetime and will be applied across settings and for years to come! However, if after all that you've read here you're feeling like you need to take a much smaller step to break the ice on investing in yourself, then might I recommend getting yourself a copy of Making a Difference: An Anthology of Nursing Professional Development Stories. This wonderful collection of stories of NPD practitioners making a difference in health care and in the lives of the healthcare personnel was published in July 2019. It not only adds clarity to the roles of NPD practitioners but also demonstrates our value in such a special, beautifully illustrated way! I'm sure after reading through it, you'll feel inspired to invest in yourself even more!




American Nurses Association & National Nursing Staff Development Organization. (2010). Nursing professional development: Scope and standards of practice. Silver Spring, MD: [Context Link]


Association for Nursing Professional Development. (2019). ANPD 2017-2020 strategic plan. Retrieved from [Context Link]


Association for Nursing Professional Development. (2017). Have you seen the new NPD model?. Retrieved from [Context Link]


Melnyk B. M., Fineout-Overholt E., Gallagher-Ford L., & Kaplan L. (2012). The state of evidence based practice in US nurses: Critical implications for nurse leaders and educators. The Journal of Nursing Administration, 42(9), 410-417. doi:. [Context Link]


Smith C. M., & Harper M. G. (2016). Leadership in nursing professional development: An organizational and system focus. Chicago, IL: Association for Nursing Professional Development. [Context Link]


Strategy Management Group. (n.d.) Strategic planning basics. Retrieved from [Context Link]