1. Haggard, Ann

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Welcome to the new column on the administration of staff development departments. My name is Ann Haggard, and I share with you a concern for how to most effectively and efficiently organize and manage staff, patient, and community education for healthcare organizations.


I have worked as a staff development educator for 20 years and have managed education departments as well as nursing units. I have also served as Chief Operating Officer for a healthcare system, which provided a different perspective on the staff development process and its costs and benefits (sort of putting the shoe on a totally different foot). My educational preparation includes a diploma in nursing from Michael Reese Hospital School of Nursing in Chicago, a BSN from Kansas State College of Pittsburgh, an MS in Health Care Management from California State-Los Angeles, and a PhD in Adult Education and Health Care Administration from Columbia Pacific University-San Rafael.


Staff development has always been important to the success of healthcare organizations (although it sometimes seems as if few people recognize that fact), but in these times of exploding knowledge and technology, educating hospital staff has become truly mission-critical. In a national poll of job satisfaction of hospital employees, "Knowing what's expected of me at work" and "Receiving opportunities to learn more about my job" ranked extremely high-higher than salary and benefits (Gallup Poll, 2004).


My goal is to make this column a resource on best practices in staff development administration, as well as a place for raising questions and issues that may be difficult for individuals to address. The more participation from readers, the more helpful this print discussion can be for everyone, including me. Since agreeing to do this column, I have been polling staff development directors on the issues currently "high on the radar." Some of the topics we will be addressing include best practice models for nursing staff development in healthcare organizations; making the best use of different instructional roles (nurse educator, clinical educator, clinical specialist); ensuring transfer of learning; effective methods of competency validation; working with affiliating schools; how to encourage nurses to take responsibility for their own development; meeting strategic needs within the current financial climate; centralization versus decentralization of staff development; preparing for JCAHO and other regulatory bodies; placement of a staff development department within the organization structure (to whom should we report?); implementing technology (for example, blending classroom and Web-based instruction to maintain the personal touch); planning and offering programs for new graduates; professional development for educators (clinical ladders, certification); recordkeeping for staff development; preparing and managing department budgets; encouraging educators to participate in professional dialogue via poster presentations/panels/sessions teaching at conventions and writing for publication; and networking with other educators both locally and nationwide.


I invite you to participate in this column. What would you like to see presented? Is there an issue you have not seen addressed elsewhere that you are curious about or that is causing a problem in your department? Even more importantly, what have you done that has solved a problem, made things work better, scored points for your department, made you proud? Please share your thoughts and accomplishments so that we can all improve our practice. My e-mail address is, or write me at Ann Haggard, Kiewit Building, Eisenhower Medical Center, 3900 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage, CA 92270-3221. I look forward to hearing from you and to sharing ideas and best practices to assist staff in learning and, ultimately, to improve patient care.