1. Weimer, Nicole MSN, RN

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Area of expertise: Leadership and professional development


I started out as a unit clerk and then became a nurse assistant trained through my work. I then became a graduate nurse and entered the nurse resident program. I was hired into the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). A few years later, I became the nurse residency coordinator/educator/supervisor. Through my work in the residency program, I was asked to chair the Nurse Research Council, start an evidence-based practice (EBP) fellowship, and then join the Magnet program as the Director. I am currently the Director of Professional Practice, where I get to combine all my passions into one job. I have been a nurse for 21 years and spent 18 years in leadership.




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



There have been many professional milestones in my career. The ones that I am most proud of are being accepted as a nurse resident, becoming a NICU nurse, being a nurse resident coordinator, becoming a CCNE site reviewer, being elected to the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) Board of Commissioners, and being elected to the CCNE Residency Accreditation Committee. My passion for new graduate nurses led to a lifelong journey in professional development that has been incredibly rewarding. The opportunity to help someone enter the nursing profession and then become a lifelong mentor through the bond of nursing is a gift that never stops giving.


Other significant milestones have been developing and implementing an EBP fellowship, establishing shared leadership (original steering committee) while at the bedside, and giving podium/poster presentations at various conferences.


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



One of the biggest changes I have seen in my career in NPD is enhancing the bedside nurse through professional development-turning a job into a profession. What do I mean by that? When I first started in nursing, every educational offering was about a skill used by the bedside nurse. Over time, we realized that the nurse was not just a task master but a professional and added that value. The bedside nurse is no longer seen as someone who "is just trained to take care of the patient" but as someone who has the knowledge to help in the decision-making of that care; someone who can do research, evidence-based practice, and process improvement; and someone who has a place at the table both locally and at the national level.


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



Significant trends and gaps in nursing practice can be addressed in many ways through NPD. From the moment nursing students step out of school and onto a hospital floor, a gap already exists. Although nursing schools lay a solid foundation, it is limited to clinical settings and opportunities. Therefore, the same two nurses from the same school who start on the same floor could need very different orientations. NPD can bridge this gap by administering a needs assessment and providing an individualized orientation. Similarly, once a nurse chooses a specialty and works in that area for many years, a gap exists when they chose to transfer to a new specialty. Another gap may occur as experienced in a pandemic, where facilities are faced with staffing challenges. Nurses needed to be upskilled to help take care of patients at a higher level of care. Across the country, NPD again jumped in and was able to bridge that gap. Lastly, another gap is nurses doing research and evidence-based practice. Nursing jobs do not incorporate time for this into the FTE. NPD helps with this by providing fellowships and councils and being mentors, so that nurses can still take care of the patients but also grow professionally by taking what they see in practice or questions that arise about practice and study them. They can then disseminate the findings and share best practices.


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



The value of the NPD in healthcare organizations now and in the future is priceless. Essentially you have someone who helps to ensure learning after you are done with school. Nursing is lifelong learning. Although there are conferences, certifications, and advanced degrees, having someone in the healthcare setting that can provide individual training at any given time, on any given topic, is invaluable. Having someone readily available when someone asks "What is the gold standard?" provides support to the nursing workforce that is much needed.


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



Remember what it is like to be a new nurse. Remember what it is like to have experience, with new equipment, new skills, and changing practice. Find ways to make learning fun. Our profession by nature is serious, but learning is a world of discovery, new adventures, and unlimited possibilities. My motto when I teach or mentor is, "If you fail, then I have failed you." This helps me stay grounded and focused and provide a learning environment that is nurturing and successful.