1. Frija, Rachael DNP, RN, NPD-BC, NEA-BC

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At the 2022 American Nurses Association Membership Assembly, Dr. Pamela Cipriano, the current president of the International Council of Nurses, shared that every president has a catchword and hers is "influence" because nurses have the power to influence health outcomes globally (P. Cipriano, personal communication, June 14, 2022). For nursing professional development practitioners (NPDPs), influence is our superpower, as we are often not in the position to enforce. When we think about the power of influence, that is, being an influencer, developing this skill set is essential to the success of our specialty. Being an influencer is not a new concept. Dale Carnegie published his seminal work How to Win Friends and Influence People in 1936, which is still considered the gold standard for developing and harnessing the power of influence. This power manifests itself in all aspects of the nursing professional development (NPD) practice model, a systems model that consists of inputs, thoughputs, and outputs (Harper & Maloney, 2022). Using the NPD practice model as a roadmap with a focus on "the big 6" throughputs, which include onboarding/orientation, competency management, education, role development, collaborative partnerships, and inquiry, practical application of influence skills is addressed in this column.

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The core of the throughputs in the NPD practice model is the NPDP's organization's mission and vision (Harper & Maloney, 2022). NPD leaders are uniquely positioned to influence the operationalization of their organization's strategic plan to achieve its mission and vision. By collaborating with the chief nursing officer, the NPD department leader can influence how to best support the strategic plan through NPD initiatives and assist with the development of measures of success. For example, the organization's board of directors recognizes nursing recruitment and retention as top priorities to mitigate the nursing staffing crisis. They approve facility goals that include the implementation of strategies to reduce nursing turnover and increase retention. After meeting with the chief nursing officer to draft strategies to meet these goals, the NPD leader constructs a business case and provides evidence that supports nurse residencies as a recruitment and retention strategy. In addition, the NPD leader provides recommendations for tangible return on investment outcomes measures with a target of reducing first year new nurse graduate turnover by 5%. These target measures can subsequently be incorporated into a scorecard to track performance measures.


Application of NPDP influence is also woven throughout the "big 6" throughputs, which represent the responsibilities of the NPDP. An example of this influential power for onboarding and orientation is consulting with nursing leadership to implement a new preceptor process that uses the tiered skill acquisition model to improve the orientees' experience and reduce orientation time frames.


NPDP influence within the responsibility of competency management is evident in the decision-making process for new products and equipment through participation on value analysis teams, whose role is to analyze potential and realized cost savings for comparable equipment and products used within a facility. This process often includes pilot projects to vet potential new products and equipment, with the NPDP collaborating with the vendor to ensure competency of staff for their use. This level of influence cannot be understated; the financial impact of these decisions is substantial.


NPDPs exert influence in the responsibility for education through the selection of learning management systems and clinical content subscription services. For example, NPDPs are key stakeholders in determining new learning management system platform selection as they often provide oversight and develop content for the clinical education of staff. Their input is valuable in deciding which platform(s) to purchase. As users of clinical subscription content, NPDPs can use their position of influence to support the request for proposal process for the selection of purchased and subscribed content, as well as assist in creating the business case to support their product of choice.


The NPDP influence in role development is twofold. NPDPs have the power to influence staff on their professional growth and development journey as well as the power to influence the academic programs offered to them. Some examples of NPD influence include preceptor development, leadership development, certification preparation and attainment, and academic degree progression. As a mentor, the NPDP can positively influence others to progress professionally. Furthermore, the NPDP can advocate for the implementation of role development programs and promote the benefits of certification and advanced degrees. This influence can take the form of advocating for certification reimbursement programs, brokering academic discounts through affiliation agreements, and presenting the benefits of these programs to senior leadership.


NPDPs' span of influence also extends to collaborative partnerships. These partnerships can be internal or external. Internally, the NPDP can develop workforce pipeline programs in collaboration with the human resources department or participate on professional governance councils. Externally, the NPD leader can establish relationships with academic partners through initiating clinical affiliation agreements and managing student placements. Furthermore, the NPDP can provide guest presentations to develop an organizational presence within the healthcare community. By engaging in these activities, NPDPs represent their facility within the academic community as being a supporter of healthcare professions development. NPDPs can increase their sphere of influence through community engagement and advocacy at the local, state, and national levels by participating in nursing associations, boards, and community service opportunities. Building these external collaborative partnerships on behalf of your employer serves to expand your scope of influence and add credibility to the NPD department and specialty.


The inquiry throughput, at its essence, addresses the NPDP's ability to influence practice change and achieve quality outcomes. In practice, NPDPs provide data to support evidence-based policies and procedures to influence quality at the point of care. They can conduct evidence-based practice projects and support their inclusion in residencies and fellowships. This responsibility also promotes dissemination of findings to influence the practice of others who are external to the organization.


Early in his text, Carnegie (1936) informs the reader, "Learning is an active process. We learn by doing" (p. 8), and he is correct. Application of influence is the key to becoming an influencer. As we apply influence in each of the NPD responsibilities, we develop the power and ability to shape NPD practice for the betterment of those we serve, so they, in turn, can provide the best care possible. This optimal care is why influence is our superpower.




Carnegie D. (1936t). How to win friends and influence people. Simon and Schuster. [Context Link]


Harper M. G., Maloney P. (Eds.) (2022). Nursing professional development: Scope and standards of practice (4th ed.). Association for Nursing Professional Development. [Context Link]